Kings 3, Devils 1
Zubrus' 12th of the season was New Jersey's only goal Saturday night.
Mike Mottau didn't know he was about to change the course of the game.
With Los Angeles pressuring, Mottau lost sight of the loose puck as he fell in front of Scott Clemmensen, but said he had no intentions of covering it up.
The Kings were awarded a penalty shot on the play, and Patrick O'Sullivan made it count in the Devils' 3-1 loss Saturday at Prudential Center.
O'Sullivan beat Clemmensen high to his blocker side with the Kings' third goal in a 4:14 span of the second period. The Devils suffered their second loss in three games, and their second straight on home ice.
"I didn't know where it was. I caught an edge, went down and it hit me," Mottau said. "The puck hit Clem, and I was over it, but not covering it and he called it. I never covered it."
Mottau said he received no explanation from referees on the call. A penalty shot can be awarded when a player falls on the puck in crease or picks up the puck with his hand in crease, according to the NHL's rule book (Rule 63).
"It was a big part of the game that went against us," Mottau said.
Clemmensen made 29 saves and lost for only the second time in nine starts. Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots for the Kings.
"It wasn't so much that [Mottau] grabbed the puck, as it was the rebound off my pad went back into him," Clemmensen said. "I don't really know what else he could have done there."
Jarret Stoll had a power-play goal for the Kings and Anze Kopitar's 15th held up as the eventual game-winner.
scored in the third period for New Jersey's lone goal, snapping a nine-game drought with his 12th of the season. Zubrus also had a power-play goal disallowed with 3:07 left in the first period when a video review determined he had kicked the puck into the net.
The Devils (33-17-3) stumbled to start their longest homestand of the season, but will be back in action Monday against the New York Rangers. Jersey's Team holds a six-point lead over the Rangers and Flyers, who are tied for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Los Angeles won its third in a row, and improved to 6-1-0 in its last seven.
When the two teams met at Staples Center back on Jan. 10, the result was a dominating 5-1 win by the Devils. To Patrik Elias
, the Kings looked Saturday like a team with something to prove.
"They jumped on us right away," said Elias, who registered an assist. "They were finishing checks, even late after the play."
With career point No. 688, Elias needs 13 to match John MacLean for the club's all-time record.
"You have to step up for those games," he said. "You have to be willing to pay the price. They had momentum, and we tried to get it on our side by finishing checks and getting something going. You have to give them credit. They played well."
The recent struggles on home ice continued for the Devils, who are 2-3-0 in their last five games in Newark. In their victory over Pittsburgh on Jan. 30, they fell behind 2-0 in the first period before Jamie Langenbrunner
tied it late and won it in overtime.
Langenbrunner didn't score Saturday against the Kings, but looked to jumpstart his team by dropping the gloves with Derek Armstrong early in the third period.
"It's part of the game," the team captain said of his fight. "A little bit of frustration maybe, but I'm just trying to do something [there]."
The contest opened with a feisty first period between two clubs that have seen each other twice this year, but just four times in the last four seasons. Five minor penalties and a scrap between Mike Rupp and Raitis Ivanans resulted in 20 penalty minutes being handed out in the scoreless opening frame.
The Devils got into penalty trouble early in the second period, killing two in the first six minutes, including 36 seconds of a two-man advantage.
's elbowing penalty was New Jersey's third minor of the period, and Stoll used it to break the scoreless tie. His slapshot from the point through Dustin Brown's screen beat Clemmensen at 10:23.
Two minutes later, the Kings pulled ahead by a pair. O'Sullivan crisscrossed at the left circle with Alexander Frolov, then centered for Kopitar, who tipped the puck just inside the right post at 12:28.
O'Sullivan's successful penalty shot made it 3-0 with 5:23 left in the second. His was the first faced by the Devils since Nov. 23, when Ryan Malone scored on Clemmensen in New Jersey's 7-3 win at Tampa.
In his only other penalty shot this season, O'Sullivan was stopped by Steve Mason at Columbus on Dec. 6.
Zubrus broke up Quick's shutout bid with a shot from the high slot with 9:19 left in regulation.
• The Devils have faced three penalty shots this season. Martin Brodeur
stopped Kyle Okposo in New Jersey's win over the Islanders on Oct. 10.
|Rupp battling Stoll.
• Colin White
missed Saturday's game after sustaining a sore hand in Friday's win at Atlanta and is listed as day-to-day. Jay Leach filled in for White and saw his first action since Jan. 6 at Carolina.
"Overall, good," Leach said of how he felt returning to the lineup for the first time in 14 games. "It takes a little while to get back into the whole thing. First period, I was fine, second period, I'd like to have a couple shifts back... I think when you're unsure, sometimes you try to make the perfect play. That's not really my [style of] play. Other than that I'm happy with it, but I'm not happy with the loss, obviously. [There's] room to grow, and we'll go from here."
• John Madden sat in his stall for a while after Saturday's loss. He wasn't surprised by the game's grit.
""They're fighting to get into the playoffs, and we're fighting to stay on top of our division," he said. "We haven't been playing well at home, so both teams came out with a little fire in their belly."
With the Devils playing the second game of a back-to-back, Madden said fatigue shouldn't have played a role in Saturday's loss.
"We played a decent first period despite taking penalties again," he said. "In the second period, we just got mentally unfocused and they capitalized on their chances."
The Devils are now 15-10-1 at Prudential Center this season, but Madden said the team needs to find a way to get back to winning game regardless of the circumstances.
"People can sit and sift through all the losses and how we lost or back-to-back or home or away or whatever," he said. "To me and to this team, a loss is a loss, whether it's on the road or at home. Our record should be better at home, we should play better at home. We haven't been, and that's been an issue lately."
• Rupp was impressed with Langenbrunner's bout. "I like it," Rupp said. "Jamie's one of those guys that you hate to play against. Mixing it up, it shows he's not too good to get his nose dirty, so it was good to see."
|Three star selections