Thursday, May 24, 2012

Devils stun Rangers, take control of Eastern Final

NJ leads 3-2 

They came out like a bat outta hell at Madison Square Garden.

Three goals in the first 10 minutes by the Devils gave New Jersey a 3-0 lead that stunned the MSG faithful; the once impenetrable Henrik Lundqvist was suddenly unraveled. While the Devils jumped all over New York early in the game, they had to hold on for dear lifeasthe evening progressed. The Devils managed only 16 shots on goal and watched their 3-0 lead disappear as the Rangers came back to tie it at three. Yet, through it all, New Jersey never wavered but found a way to win a crucial Game Five.

If New Jersey should win on Friday night, the series will be over. The Devils then will advance to the Stanley Cup finals against the LA Kings, while the number one seed Rangers will limp home wondering what could have been.

The Devils wasted no time in this match. Three minutes into the opening period, Stephen Gianta pushed the puck past Lundqvist for the quick 1-0 lead. Two minutes later, Patrick Elias jumped into a fray for the puck with Carl Hagelin. As the two battled, Hagelin's skate kicked the puck into the Rangers net, giving New Jersey a 2-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the Devils offensive MVP of these playoffs, Travis Zajac, scored his seventh goal of the playoffs with an assist from Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador, making it 3-0 Devils.

While most teams would have crumbled, the Rangers never gave up. They took 28 shots on Martin Brodeur, including 11 shots in the second period, a period they clearly dominated.

The Rangers pulled to within one thanks to a Brandon Proust goal before the end of the first period and a Ryan Callahan goal at the start of the second. After the Callahan goal, the Devils played on pins and needles, as New York took shot after shot after shot.

Then, at the start of the third period, the Rangers finally scored when Brodeur made a huge error. While trying to return to the net, Marian Gaborik kicked the puck underneath Brodeur's skates. The veteran goalie saw the puck and tried to reach for it, but the force of his glove tapped the puck into the net tying the game.

Now the Devils turned. They limited the Rangers opportunities on their side of the ice and attacked Lundqvist. Finally, with four minutes left, Ryan Carter snuck around the Rangers defense and slapped the puck in, giving New Jersey a 4-3 lead. After New York failed to keep the puck behind the Devils blue line, Zach Parise kicked the puck out and slapped it across the ice into the net for an empty net goal cementing the Devils 5-3 victory.

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