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Devils Beat Kings 3-1 to Avoid Sweep in NHL Stanley Cup Final

The New Jersey Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 to avoid the first sweep in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Final in 14 years.

Patrik Elias put the Devils ahead in the third period at Staples Center in Los Angeles last night. Drew Doughty tied it on a power play before Adam Henrique restored New Jersey’s lead and Ilya Kovalchuk made sure of the win with an empty-net score.

“In the position that we’re in there’s no margin of error for anyone,” Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said in a televised interview. “It’s a tough situation, but we live another day.”

The Devils trail by three games to one in the best-of-seven series, which continues with Game 5 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on June 9. The only team to rally from an 0-3 deficit and win the Stanley Cup was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs against Detroit. The Red Wings were the last of 20 teams to sweep the championship round, in 1997 and 1998.

The Kings are seeking to win the NHL title for the first time in franchise history, while the Devils are chasing their fourth championship and first since 2003.

The Kings, who lost in their only prior visit to the title round in 1993, are seeking to become the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup. The only other eighth seed to play in the Stanley Cup Final was the Edmonton Oilers, who lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

Los Angeles won the first two games in New Jersey 2-1 in overtime before recording a 4-0 shutout at home in Game 3.

Scoreless Until Third

Brodeur and his Kings counterpart Jonathan Quick kept last night’s game scoreless until seven minutes, 56 seconds into the third period.

The Devils took the lead when Dainius Zubrus won possession behind the Kings’ goal and sent the puck to Bryce Salvador, whose 62-foot slapshot was deflected by Quick to New Jersey captain Elias, whose backhand found the net from nine feet.

The score ruined the Kings’ chances of becoming the first team since the 1960 Montreal Canadiens to sweep a Stanley Cup Final without trailing in any game.

The lead lasted a minute. The Kings won a faceoff six seconds after New Jersey’s David Clarkson was given a two-minute penalty for boarding. The puck went to Doughty, who scored with a 57-foot slapshot.

New Jersey restored its lead with 4:31 to play when Clarkson sent a pass to Henrique, whose 18-foot wristshot flew high past the right hand of Quick and into the net.

Kovalchuk made certain of the win with a 49-foot shot into an empty net with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

Both goalies ended the game with 21 saves.

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