By Steve Keating
NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - If the New Jersey Devils are to prevent the Los Angeles Kings from running away with the Stanley Cup they must do something no National Hockey League (NHL) team has done - put up a roadblock.
With nine consecutive road wins, including Wednesday's 2-1 victory in the opening game of the best-of-seven championship series, Los Angeles have been the Kings of the road having gone unbeaten away from home this postseason.
The NHL's ultimate road warriors, the Kings have not hit a single speed bump during their Stanley Cup road trip and can equal the league mark of 10 away wins in a single postseason with a win at New Jersey on Saturday when the series resumes.
But having dropped the opener in their previous two series there were no alarm bells going off in New Jersey's locker room following Wednesday's loss.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer must find away to bring the Los Angeles road show to a close in Game Two on Saturday or face the daunting and unpleasant prospect of heading to the U.S. West Coast in a 2-0 series hole.
"It's a pretty simple formula, they play hard, they get good goaltending," summed up DeBoer. "They're a good team, they come out, and they press you. They're big, they're fast. They've got a good goalie.
"We started the same hole against Philly, we started in the same hole against the Rangers. ... We responded to the situation the right way the last two rounds and I expect I expect the same."
The Los Angeles game plan may be simple but opposing teams have had a hard time finding ways to disrupt it.
Part of the Kings' success away from the Staples Center has been their ability to grab the early lead, scoring first in five of their nine wins.
They have trailed for just 58 minutes in those nine games and outscored opponents 16-4 after the second intermission.
The Kings have also demonstrated they know how to close out games, winning all three overtime games they have been involved in with all three victories coming on the road.
"Scoring first has been a big part of our success, not only on the road but in general," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "We haven't trailed very much in the post-season.
"It (the streak) speaks for itself. We're comfortable on the road, we prepare well, watch video and we've been able to execute in other team's buildings."
"At this point we're not worried about a record, or road record, we're worried about three more wins."
With a 13-2 record the Kings appear determined to take the express lane to the franchise's first Stanley Cup while the Devils have taken a longer, more adventurous route
"It's a long road," reminded Devils center Patrik Elias.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)