LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Adam Henrique seems to join a new elite club with each of his big playoff goals.
After the New Jersey rookie scored the tiebreaker to win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night, he became the first rookie to get three game-winning goals in one playoff year since 1999. Colorado’s Chris Drury scored four goals, and teammate Milan Hejduk had three.
Pressure doesn’t seem to bother the 22-year-old Henrique, who won back-to-back Memorial Cups with the Windsor Spitfires in juniors.
“Everybody wants to be out there in those situations,” Henrique said. “You want to be counted on by your teammates, your coaches. I just play. I’m not thinking about what’s going to happen if I score, if I don’t score. I’m just a kid playing hockey, having some fun.”
The Calder Trophy finalist already has two overtime goals in the post-season, tying the rookie record set by Jacques Lemaire in 1968 and equaled by Claude Lemieux in 1986. His double-overtime goal ended the first-round series against Florida, and his score eliminated the top-seeded New York Rangers from the Eastern Conference finals.
OLD NEW GUYS: New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer shook up his lineup with the Devils down to their last gasp in the Stanley Cup finals, and the two newcomers played big roles in their series-saving win.
Forward Petr Sykora and defenceman Henrik Tallinder cracked the lineup for Game 4 on Wednesday night, replacing Jacob Josefson and former Kings defenceman Peter Harrold.
Tallinder had been out since Jan. 17 because of a blood clot, but returned to play nearly 20 minutes, even seeing time on both special-teams units.
“Peter Harrold played great, gave us some good minutes,” DeBoer said before the game. “The reality is, Tallinder was a top-two defenceman for us, was all year. He’s been out for a long time. This is the first time in the last four or five days where we felt in practice that he was up to game speed and a legitimate option.”
New Jersey began the night on the brink of being swept in a best-of-seven series for the first time in the three-time champions’ franchise history. They responded with veteran poise in a 3-1 victory, and both Tallinder and Sykora contributed.
New Jersey scored just two goals in the first three games of the finals against goalie Jonathan Quick. That is the impetus behind the return of Sykora, the 10-time 20-goal scorer and two-time champion who is playing in his sixth Stanley Cup finals.
Sykora had just one shot, but he nearly beat Quick with a slick play in the slot early in the first period. Quick snatched the puck out of midair.
“I’m just happy that we won a game and we (can) keep playing,” Sykora said. “There’s still a chance, and that’s all that matters right now.”
Sykora wasn’t injured, but hadn’t played since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on May 19. He played in the finals with New Jersey in 2000 and 2001, then played against the Devils with Anaheim in 2003 before making appearances with Pittsburgh in 2008 and 2009.
Sykora had 44 points while playing in all 82 regular-season games in his return to the Devils this season, but has just two goals and two assists in 16 playoff games.
Tallinder, who recorded two shots and blocked another, made two lengthy playoff runs earlier in his career with Buffalo, but the Swedish veteran hadn’t played in the post-season in his two years with New Jersey.
“I feel pretty comfortable in practice, but it’s practice,” Tallinder said. “Game is a different thing. Yeah, it’s the Stanley Cup final. I mean, how do you prepare for that? Excitement. You know, a lot of jump in your legs. Try not to think too much.”
COLD-BLOODED KILLERS: The Kings couldn’t score much in Game 4, but at least their penalty-killing is still flawless.
Los Angeles killed all three of the Devils’ power plays on Wednesday, improving to 15 for 15 in the Stanley Cup finals. The Kings have killed 67 of 72 penalties in the entire post-season, including 51 of the last 53.
The Kings even scored a goal on the power play for the second straight game, needing just 6 seconds of man-advantage time to get it. Los Angeles went 1 for 4 and improved to 9 for 83 in the post-season, with three of those goals in the last two games.
MILLER’S TIME: Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Miller has been the voice of the Los Angeles Kings for the past 39 seasons, and he has a press box named in his honour at Staples Center.
He also has a legion of fans who are frustrated to the core over the fact that the NHL’s TV contract with NBC Sports prohibits local telecasts of the Stanley Cup finals.
With the Kings on the threshold of their first Stanley Cup title in the franchise’s 45-year history, the club finally worked out a compromise to allow Miller and colour analyst Jim Fox to do their thing.
Miller and Fox will be at the mike for every possible Cup clincher as though they were doing a live telecast, so that a commemorative DVD can be produced for later use for posterity with them calling the Kings’ Stanley Cup clincher. In addition, their call was piped into Staples Center’s concession areas—and restrooms.
Miller and Fox, a former Kings player, had been reduced to pregame and postgame analysis on Fox Sports West following the NBC telecasts since the second playoff round began.
The disappointment intensified for Miller, whose hanging-on-the-edge play-by-play description serves as the soundtrack in the lives of generations of Kings fans.
The team’s radio tandem, Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans—who scored the winning goal in overtime in the historic “Miracle on Manchester” victory over Edmonton in the opening round of the 1982 playoffs at the Inglewood Forum—have been able to keep working throughout these playoffs.
PARISE KNOWS: Devils captain Zach Parise can ask his father how a comeback from an 0-3 playoff deficit is possible.
J.P. Parise did it three times, in a way.
His New York Islanders rallied from 0-3 down to win a second-round series against Pittsburgh in 1975—and then nearly did it again in the next round against Philadelphia, winning three straight before losing Game 7.
The elder Parise also was on the Canadian national team that won the final three games of the famed 1972 Summit Series against Russia.
“He said him and (goalie) Chico (Resch) are living proof that it can happen,” said Zach Parise, who entered Game 4 on a four-game scoreless skid.
“He said they did it twice in the one season,” Parise said. “He said with Team Canada, they went into Russia, had to win three games, won three games there. He said it can happen.”
Parise also said his father realizes how close the Devils have been to turning around the series.
“He said just from watching the games, the margin for error right now is really, really slim,” Zach Parise said. “All three of the games, we felt like we could have won. He just said, ‘You’ve got to start with the one tonight and then see what happens.'”