The Devils came into LA for Game 3 in desperate need of a win. They exerted a lot of effort and ramped up their forecheck. They destroyed the Kings in the possession battle. But in the words of John Wooden, "never mistake activity for achievement." The Kings won the scoring chance battle for the game 16-15. That is even with the Devils having 7 more minutes of power play time. In fact, the Kings out-chanced the Devils 16-11 before notching their fourth goal of the game (note: scoring chance data from Corey S.).
The Devils pressure resulted in few scoring chances due to stellar play from the Kings defensive zone coverage (both from defensemen and forwards). The aggressiveness of the Devils defense in pinching hard to try to keep the puck in the zone resulted in many quality counter attacks. Also the Devils poor puck handling along the blue line along with forwards not being able to get traffic in front of the net was their undoing.
Now for the numbers:
- The possession numbers are skewed due to score effects. The Devils out-attempted the Kings 19-5 in the third after the Kings had accumulated a 4-0 lead. Also the Devils were only able to get 35% of their shot attempts on net. Total shots on goal at even strength were 19-14 in the Devils favor, not a bad differential given the score disparity.
- Through 2 periods, when the score was close, Drew Doughty was again dominant. He had a 62% adjusted shot attempt % to end the second period, by far the highest mark on the team.
- The Kings were able to neutralize the top six of the Devils through two periods as well, as the top line was held to 37% and the second to 47%. Their numbers jumped significantly after the third but that still didn't result in any goals.
- As has been the playoff long trend, the Richards line was used as the stopper and they effectively stopped Zajac and Co.
- The Kopitar line was charged with battling the Henrique line and although they weren't their usual dominant selves, they managed yet another spectacular goal at a pivotal moment:
- The Kings 4th line had a decent showing, having been boosted by the presence of Simon Gagne. I think Gagne remains in the line-up for Game 4 but would be out for Game 5 in New Jersey. Since he is not quite in game shape yet and recovering from a serious injury, the staff probably wants to control who he is out on the ice against as much as possible.
- Score effects or no, the third pair of Volchekov/ Harrold had a stellar effort for the Devils. In addition to recording a 76.9% attempt %, they also out shot their opposition 10-1. They faced relatively difficult opposition as well in the Richards and Stoll lines.
- The Josefson line was a possession force throughout the game. They were hard-matched against the Stoll line. The Kings yet again had a hard time driving play against the Devils depth players. If somehow the momentum of the series shifts and the Devils play themselves back in it, their bottom 6 is what will get them there. What it will take is them somehow turning their possession prowess into scoring chances.
Even Strength Line Combinations:
- L1 = Brown-Kopitar-Williams
- L2 = Penner-Richards-Carter
- L3 = King-Stoll-Lewis
- L4 = Richardson-Fraser-Nolan
- D1 = Scuderi-Doughty
- D2 = Mitchell-Voynov
- D3 = Martinez-Greene
- L1 = Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk
- L2 = Zubrus-Henrique-Elias
- L3 = Clarkson-Josefson-Ponikarovsky
- L4 = Carter-Gionta-Bernier
- D1 = Salvador-Zidlicky
- D2 = Greene-Fayne
- D3 = Volchenkov-Harrold