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Thursday, May 31, 2012 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.
Anze Kopitar's breakaway overtime goal gives Los Angeles 2-1 win in Game 1 | Stanley Cup Final
By Seattle Times news services
NEWARK, N.J. — Anze Kopitar's goal 8 minutes, 13 seconds in to overtime gave the Los Angeles Kings a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final opener Wednesday at the Prudential Center.
Kopitar was sent on a breakaway by Justin Williams. He deked in front of New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur and tucked in a backhand shot.
The victory gave the Kings a 9-0 road record during the playoffs. The Kings are now one win shy of the NHL record for postseason road victories.
More importantly, they are three wins away from the franchise's first NHL title. They have won 11 consecutive road playoff games dating to last season.
Kopitar saw Williams battling with Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador and forward Dainius Zubrus along the boards.
"I wanted to make sure I went to the middle," Kopitar said. "I don't know if he heard me or not, but I yelled for the puck and he chipped it. It was perfect, right on my tape. It happened pretty quick and I was able to finish it off."
As soon as he rifled the puck into the net, Kopitar raised his hands and banged himself into the boards, facing the crowd off to Brodeur's right.
"To put it past a goaltender like Marty is a good feeling," Kopitar said.
Both teams had chances to win the game in regulation.
With the score tied 1-1, a scramble in front of the net nearly gave the Devils the lead four minutes into the third period. The Devils' Zach Parise picked up a deflection in front of the net, but couldn't get the puck past goaltender Jonathan Quick.
A pileup at the goal crease ensued and Parise grabbed to puck with his left hand and pushed it into the net. Referees ruled it was not a goal and the call was upheld on replay.
Mark Fayne nearly gave the Devils the lead midway through the third period, but shanked a shot with a wide-open net.
The Kings racked up six consecutive shots at one point. Brodeur stopped them all.
"I think it was probably the worst game in the playoffs for us," said Devils leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk.
• After 20 seasons, the Nicklas Lidstrom era is ending for the Detroit. Lidstrom will announce his retirement at a news conference Thursday, a source has confirmed to the Detroit Free Press. The event will be at Joe Louis Arena, where Lidstrom arrived as a 21-year-old promising defenseman in 1991 and leaves two decades later with an armful of trophies.
• NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expects negotiations with the players' association on a new collective-bargaining agreement to begin in a couple of weeks. Bettman said that talk of a lockout next season is nothing more than speculation at this point since labor and management have not met.
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