LOS ANGELES - When Adam Henrique decided to face playoff elimination by shaving his beard into a bristly mustache, the New Jersey Devils realized their remarkable rookie isn't exactly buckling under the pressure of the Stanley Cup finals.
Martin Brodeur probably has pads older than his teammate, and the NHL's winningest goalie was acutely aware of the stakes riding on his every save in Game 4.
After the 22-year-old clutch scorer and the 40-year-old goalie teamed up to put the Stanley Cup back in its crate, the Devils headed home still nursing the chance of a comeback for all ages.
Henrique scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:29 to play, Brodeur made 21 saves, and New Jersey beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 on Wednesday night to avoid a sweep in the finals.
After making a series of stunning saves in a performance that evoked his greatest moments, Brodeur said he believes in the Devils' comeback chances "more than yesterday."
"You know, I think we wanted to make them jump on a plane and come to New Jersey," Brodeur said. "We had to go anyway. Might as well get a game over there."
Game 5 is Saturday night in Newark, N.J.
Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored third-period goals as the Eastern Conference champion Devils disappointed Los Angeles' long-suffering fans who have waited nearly 45 years for their franchise's first championship.
A few minutes after Drew Doughty tied it for the Kings, Henrique scored his third enormous goal of the postseason, taking a pass from David Clarkson and rocketing a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick, the Kings' nearly unbeatable goalie.
The Calder Trophy finalist ended two of the Devils' first three playoff series with overtime goals, and he kept New Jersey alive with his latest.
Kings capture first Stanley Cup
Quick stopped 21 shots for the Kings, but lost his streak of nearly 139 shutout minutes right when he probably could have wrapped up the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Kings had allowed just one third-period goal in their previous nine games.
Kovalchuk added an empty-netter that sent fans streaming forlornly out into a warm evening in Southern California.
"We stayed alive," said Elias, who has two of the Devils' five goals in the series. "Marty had to work hard, but he gave us a chance. All we've got to do it keep playing hard."
With a golden chance for a Hockeywood ending, Los Angeles dropped to 15-3 in its spectacular postseason run, failing to win the title on its first try - and in its 200th playoff game, no less - in front of the faithful fans who have never seen the Stanley Cup.
The Kings should head to New Jersey with confidence: They have won all 10 of their road playoff games this spring and 12 straight overall - both NHL postseason records. But after never trailing in the Stanley Cup finals, the Kings never led in Game 4.
"I think (wrapping it up) was definitely on our minds, but they found a way to get a late goal," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We've just got to hit the reset button. We've been in this situation now four times in the playoffs, and we've always come back with a big rebound game."
Los Angeles set an NHL record by taking a 3-0 lead in all four of its playoff series, but failed three times to close out its opponents in Game 4. Vancouver and Phoenix also won Game 4 before losing Game 5.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
"I think the last three games could have gone our way as easily as they've gone L.A.'s way," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We finally got rewarded tonight."
After a tight-checking game between two very tight teams, Elias' rebound goal with 12:04 to play put a hush over Staples Center. But 62 seconds later -and six seconds after Clarkson went off with a questionable boarding penalty - Mike Richards passed Anze Kopitar's faceoff win to Doughty, who rocketed a long shot past Brodeur for the fourth goal of his breakthrough postseason.
But after so many minutes of tight defense, New Jersey won it with a stunning goal in transition: Former Kings forward Alexei Ponikarovsky got the puck to Clarkson, who found Henrique across the ice for his first goal since ending the Eastern Conference finals with an overtime goal.
"That's probably the best feeling I've ever had in my whole career," Clarkson said. "I saw (Henrique) coming, so I got it to him, and the shot was incredible."
Live Extra: In an 0-2 hole, the Rangers face a must-win game at home against the Bruins in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
PHT: After the Rangers and Bruins face off in Game 3 of their series (7:30 p.m. ET; Live Extra, NBCSN), the Kings and Sharks play (10 ET; Live Extra, NBCSN) Game 4 of theirs.
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