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Despite struggles, Devils captain Parise comes through in the clutch

Jun 9, 2012, 11:29 PM EDT

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Through the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals, Zach Parise had failed to do what he did 31 times in the regular season and seven times in the playoffs — score a goal.

But that changed Saturday night, as the Devils captain notched his first tally of the series in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles. With the victory, New Jersey staved off elimination and forced a Game 6 — this after the Kings took a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Parise finished Game 5 with a goal, three shots, a hit, a takeaway and a blocked shot in nearly 20 minutes of ice time. Afterward, he spoke with NBC’s Pierre McGuire about snapping his goalless drought…and the reality that the Devils are going going, back back, to Cali, Cali.

“We’re still down 3-2, but it’s nice to get one — it’s nice to contribute,” Parise said. “I thought we were playing well, we were trying hard but nothing was going in for us.”

McGuire then asked about an opening 20 minutes where, despite finishing with a 1-0 lead, the Devils looked tentative and only had three shots on goal.

Parise acknowledged it wasn’t his team’s best effort, but said it really didn’t matter.

“Bottom line, we won the game,” he said. “They played a great game tonight, they put us on our heels quite a bit but like I said, we won the game and now we’re going back to L.A., which is what we wanted to do.”

What once seemed improbable is now a reality. The Devils have handed Los Angeles its first losing streak of the playoffs, and the captain played a major role.

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Notes:

– Parise tallied his eighth goal of the playoffs, moving into a five-way tie for the NHL goal-scoring lead (Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Danny Briere).

– After going 0-for-15 on the power play through the first four games of the finals, the Devils scored on their first opportunity with the man advantage in Game 5.

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