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The Kings Are Two Wins Away from the Stanley Cup

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The Kings are two wins away from the Stanley Cup.

Like a mantra, I have to keep repeating that sentence to myself to make that sentence sound real. The morning after it still doesn't seem real.

It's not like the Devils were outplayed in matching 2-1 overtime losses to the Kings. In fact the Devils could be up 2-0 in the series, and judging by the play Saturday night in Game 2 should be at least tied 1-1.

There was Ilya Kovalchuk's two shots that could have evened the series — one at the end of regulation that achingly glanced off the crossbar and out of play; one at the beginning of overtime that ended up in the netting out of play.

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The Kings are two wins away from the Stanley Cup.

But there was Jeff Carter, whose name hasn't been uttered since his hat trick against Phoenix in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. The puck was on his stick in the neutral zone as he charged down the right wing. With Dustin Penner right in front of the net, Carter made the cross-crease pass to try and get the back-side score.

The pass missed.

Undeterred and not having slowed down, Carter circled around the net to the other side of the ice and picked up his own pass. Carter went up the seam and without lifting his head to see where he's shooting he unleashed a wrister on Martin Brodeur's stick side. With a ton of red sweaters (and a wide berth Penner) crowding the crease, Brodeur had no chance. By the time Brodeur saw the puck it was behind him in the net.

"I think this is by far the biggest," Carter mused immediately after the game. "I think it's my first playoff overtime goal. It's a huge one. It's a big one for the team."

That's a bit of an understatement given how the Kings' players jumped on Carter with shouts of, "Fuck yeah," being heard through NBC's television feed.

The Kings are two wins away from the Stanley Cup.

As for the Devils, they have a huge problem that can be summarized in two words: Jonathan Quick.

They tried to go high on Quick. Look at the those two Kovalchuk shots. They tried to go low on Quick. No luck. They tried to move him post-to-post. Nothing doing. They tried crashing the crease. Nope.

The one goal the Devils scored in Game 1 came off of Kings' defenseman Slava Voynov's body. The one goal in Game 2 came off of a fortunate redirection by fourth-liner Ryan Carter.

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"He plays low," Devils' forward Travis Zajak noted Sunday afternoon after practice. "He's quick on rebounds. He's fast. He gets out and plays pucks a lot. He's a great goalie. He's been like that all year for them."

But throughout the game there were Devils' players with a perfect opportunity to score a goal. Time after time they decide to make the extra pass or make the extra move. The results speak for themselves.

The Kings are two wins away from the Stanley Cup.

The Kings have now won 10 road playoff games this postseason tying the 1995 Devils' team that happened to win their franchise's first Stanley Cup. In fact a lot of parallels can be drawn between the two teams. Take Devils' 21-year old defenseman Scott Niedermayer in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on the road in Detroit:

See Kings' 22-year old defenseman Drew Doughty in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on the road in New Jersey:

It's almost too good to be true. Kings' fans are ready for the other skate to drop, for the illegal stick, for the regression to the mean.

But the Kings are two games away from the Stanley Cup.

The Kings became the 12th team to go up 2-0 on the road in Stanley Cup Final history. Only the 1942 and 1966 Detroit Red Wings teams ended up losing the series. Seven times did the road team end up sweeping the series. One series went five games and one went seven.

Game 3 on Monday will be the first time the Devils have played outside the Eastern Time Zone since Jan. 14.

The Kings have not played at the jaw-dropping level they have played in previous rounds, yet they are still in the same position taking 2-0 leads on the road. However they are not content with being where they are. Kings' defenseman Matt Greene maintains the team has to get better.

"I think [the Devils'] forecheck is great right now," Greene said. "It's getting a lot of things done for them that they want to get done. We want more pressure in the offensive zone."

But the Kings are two wins away from the Stanley Cup.