The Los Angeles Kings's record-smashing road show will head back home with a chance to clinch the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup following a 2-1 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
After a pair of thrilling extra period wins in New Jersey, the best-of-seven series now shifts to the West coast for Games Three and Four on Monday and Wednesday with the Kings 2-0 up and in position to finish the Devils off on home ice.
"You obviously think about that (being two wins away)," Kings Dustin Penner told reporters.
"Now we'll get nostalgic and think 'two more wins and we make history' but when it comes to Monday and Wednesday night, we won't be thinking that way.
"We'll be thinking just that game, that shift, that period, the next goal. That's how we've done it all through the playoffs."
The odds certainly favour the Kings with teams sweeping the first two road games of the finals going on to win the Cup on nine of 11 occasions. However, there has been little to separate the rivals after two tightly contested games that both ended in 2-1 overtime wins, marking the first time in 61 years that the opening pair of Stanley Cup final contests have needed extra periods.
"It's tough but we can't feel sorry for ourselves," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.
"We played a much better game, I knew we would respond.
"We came up one goal short."
While Anze Kopitar was the overtime hero in the opener it was Jeff Carter stunning the home crowd in Game Two, when he took control of the puck in the New Jersey zone, turned into the slot and snapped a shot past Martin Brodeur.
"Playoff hockey, you put it on net as much as you can," Carter said. "It's usually a cheesy goal but Penns (Dustin Penner) did a great job of getting right in front of Marty (Brodeur).
"I think it's my first playoff overtime goal and it's a huge one.
"It's a big one for the team. Gets us a two-game lead, gets us where we wanted to be coming in here."
The victory was another step in a remarkable journey for the Kings, who scraped into the post-season as the eighth seeds but have reigned supreme in the playoffs, now boasting a 14-2 record.
There was no panic on the New Jersey bench when the game began, the Devils in a familiar spot having dropped the opening game in each of their previous two series. Right from the opening faceoff, the Devils played with an urgency and purpose that was missing in the Game One but could not put a puck past Jonathan Quick.
Despite seeing little of the puck early on, it was the Kings who got on the scoreboard first, Drew Doughty powering his way across the New Jersey blueline and ripping a wrist shot past Brodeur at the 7:49 mark.
It was the 10th time in 16 playoff games the Kings have opened the scoring.
The Devils continued to test Quick in a scoreless second period but finally made the breakthrough three minutes into the third, when Ryan Carter redirected Marek Zidicky's blast from the point past the Los Angeles netminder.
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|William T. Hathaway|