If you asked all the hockey analysts, they would tell you that the Devils have out played the Rangers. Last night the opposite happened. The team’s flipped the scripts as the Devils made 4 of their 17 shots hit the back of the net led by Stephen Gionta’s goal and an assist on the game winner by Ryan Carter.
In what Devils Captain Zach Parise called, “Their worst performance of the playoffs,” the Devils needed to rally after scoring three times in the first ten minutes of the game. Stephen Gionta’s high-stick on Rangers Derek Stepan went unnoticed and so did he as he drove the net and deposited a rebound to open the scoring. A Patrick Elias tip-in went off the skate of Rangers’ Artem Anisimov and past goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Just before Travis Zajac scored, the Rangers had two glorious chances with Chris Kreider and Marian Gaborik firing a shot over the net. For the Rangers leading scorer, Gaborik brought his A-game after that moment.
The Rangers rally began with Brandon Prust scoring while falling after Ruslan Fedotenko sprung with an outlet pass. Then 32 seconds into the second period, Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan had a centering feed from Artem Anisimov go off his skate and into the net. Then on the Power Play, Callahan took a rebound and hit the goal post. To begin the third period, it was only fitting that Marian Gaborik would tie it- 17 seconds in. When the puck drifted into the No-Play Area, Devils Martin Brodeur had to leave it and Gaborik swooped in to fire puck on net, off Brodeur and in.
After that, the Devils pulled out all the stops and took the play into the Rangers end, but the best chance to score was off the stick of Rangers’ Brad Richards? That’s right. Richards wanted to swing the puck around the boards, but nearly beat Henrik Lundqvist glove side. About five minutes remaining when Devils Ilya Kovalchuk and Rangers Michael Del Zotto raced for the puck to a draw. Then Gionta got to it just in time to swing it in front to Carter for the game-winner. Parise would add an empty net goal.
It was the first time, Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals in the post season, and the first time the Rangers team allowed 5 goals all season. It was also their second set of back-to-back losses all season. If the Rangers are going to extend their playoff run, they’ll need to win two consecutive games this weekend. They did accomplish that against the Ottawa Senators in the first round, but the Devils aren’t the Senators. As the series results have mimicked the 1994 Conference Finals, the games have not. Games 6 & 7 of 1994 went to Rangers, but the Devils won’t want history to repeat.