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Frustrated Devils withhold criticism of Stoll hit, Bernier ejection

Sean Leahy
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It was the hit that changed the game and the entire series.

Steve Bernier's boarding call on Rob Scuderi midway through the first period gave the Los Angeles Kings a five-minute power play on which they would score three times en route to winning Game 6 6-1 and their first Stanley Cup.

Bernier was also ejected, leaving the Devils with one less forward for the rest of the game as they attempted to dig themselves out of a three-goal hole and force a Game 7.

Moments before Bernier's game misconduct, Kings forward Jarret Stoll hit Stephen Gionta from behind raising the ire of the Devils' bench after no penalty was given. New Jersey was still fuming about the Stoll non-call and Bernier ejection after the game, but head coach Peter DeBoer and captain Zach Parise kept their emotions in check and didn't reveal their feelings.

[Photos: Devils' Stanley Cup comeback falls short against Kings]

"Trust me, I'd love to sound off on that right now, but I'm not gonna," said Parise when asked about the Stoll hit.

"You know what, tonight is about L.A. and letting them celebrate," said DeBoer. "If you want to ask me about that in about a week, I'll give you my honest opinion on it."

A remorseful Bernier said he didn't watch the rest of the game from the locker room. Instead, he listened to the crowd to judge how the game was going. The four-minute span of cheering immediately following his penalty had to have been gut-wrenching as Los Angeles grabbed a 3-0 lead.

"You want to have a strong forecheck," said Bernier. "As the first guy you need to finish your hit. That's exactly what I did."

Bernier also said he didn't see the Stoll hit on Gionta just before his his on Scuderi and as his teammates came back to the locker room after the first period, they were nothing but encouraging.

"You feel for him because in that situation," said Parise. "When you get a five-minute penalty, they score three times on it, of course you're gonna feel like it's your fault, but it's not. We can't fault him for that. It's how he's gotta play. You feel for him."

The Devils' penalty kill -- tops in the NHL during the regular season, but near the bottom of the pack in the playoffs -- allowed the Kings' putrid power play to capitalize and put the game out of reach early. It killed any momentum New Jersey was building and quickly ended any thoughts of a comeback.

"It's no one's fault," said David Clarkson. "There's no fingers pointed anywhere at the refs or anybody.

"We dug ourselves a bit of a hole there and couldn't come out of it."

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Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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