All I can say about tonights game, is WOW... What an amazing team effort to pull out the victory in a thriller against Hudson River Rivals, the New York Rangers.
WOW, if you missed the first period, you missed a lot... 18 total shots, 10 for New York, 8 for Jersey. 7 scoring chances to 6, also, in favor of New York. With barely any stoppages in play throughout the first 20 minutes, play was, considerably, VERY EXCITING for both teams, both fan bases. An extremely entertaining first period had one penalty, which was killed off by the 3rd ranked PK unit in the league when Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto got the call about 7 minutes through for interferance on Clarkson. New Jersey is ranked second league-wide when short handed. Along with the penalty, the Rangers put a marker up on the scoreboard with about 30 seconds left in the period. Former Blue Jacket Anton Stralman scored his second goal of the season on a rebound that was kicked right of the cage by the pad of Brodeur. Assists of Stralman's goal were the prolific goal scorer and All-Star Game MVP Marian Gaborik, and rookie All-Star Carl Hagelin. Despite the goal, (which, in my opinion, was allowed by sloppy defense) Brodeur was fantastic. Marty managed to stop 9 of the 10 Ranger shots on goal in the first, plenty of which, were scoring opportunities. Brodeur made vintage kick-saves followed by flaring glove save after glove save, one save hopping up onto his feet from his hips gobbling up a shot with his chest in a frog-like, leaping motion. A very physical period as well, fans being witness to many hits by a wide variety of players. Kovalchuk had a handful of opportunities throughout the period, but couldnt manage to punch one past the OTHER Marty, Marty Biron. The teams would head to the locker rooms with one goal on the board, the New York Rangers leading their Cross-River Rivals 1-0.
The second period would see New Jersey finally crack Biron's goose egg. The captain, Zach Parise would get his 16th of the year on a beautiful read off a rebound in which he managed to place it just over the right shoulder of Biron while getting the shot off nearly on the goal line. A fairly even second period, highlighted by the goal by Zach, 3 penalties (two Devils penalties, 1 Rangers penalty), couple hits and the Devils out shooting New York 11-8 in the middle period. Couple more big saves made by "The Marty's". One BIG answering blocker save by Biron after giving up the tying goal to Parise shortly followed up by a breakaway opportunity for Brad Richards which was kicked aside by Brodeur. The Rangers would go into the third period with the man advantage at the expense of Mark Fayne getting called for holding, 19:19 minutes through the second period.
A third period that opened up with a goal, not on the power play, but an even strength goal scored by Brian Boyle for the Rangers would result in a third period, for the AGES. After killing off another penalty, one that carried over from the second period, the Rangers moved ahead on the scoreboard, deflating the hopes of the home-town crowd. The Devils wouldnt get back into the game until later on in the third when Ilya Kovalchuk would tie it up, with under 5 minutes left on the clock. Kovlachuk rifled one past Biron for his 20th of the year as he punched the boards and SCREAMED into the rafters as though he were playing possesed! No sooner does New Jersey get BACK into the game, they give one up, and they do it quickly... 36 seconds later as a matter of fact. Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto stunned Jersey, with 3:59 left in the third, bringing New York to a one goal lead, and one goal closer to 2 points in the playoff race. When all seemed doomed, Brodeur racing to the bench for the extra attacker, and the Devils, one step closer to a fourth straight loss, it was a miracle, an unsung hero, tying his career high in goals with his 17th of the season, it was David Clarkson, "Clarky", tying the game, 3 goals a piece, with under a minute left in play. The Rock was rockin'! An outburst of "YOU SUCK!" chants reigned from the Devils faithful as their team remained to respond time and time again in a see-saw type of game between the Rangers which alternated goals throughout. The teams would be forced, into overtime.
In overtime, we were all witness to not one, but TWO, heart stopping, "almost" game winners for both teams. The five minute sudden death period would be as exciting as the last period of play. With the Devils on the attack, it was a near GWG for Dainius Zubrus when he was stuffed by the stick of a Rangers defenseman on the doorstep, which was immediatly followed up by another missed opportunity, this time by Kovalchuk. Soon after the play makes its transition into the neutral zone, the Rangers had an offensive outbreak, 2 on 1 opportunity with the defense trailing, the Rangers managed to sneak one behind and around Brodeur. BUT COULDNT SCORE! It was a spectacular, heads-up defensive play by Andy Greene, playing in his first game since returning from injury, who slapped the puck out of the crease and off the goal line before a diving Marian Gaborik could punch it in for the GWG. Overtime would end scoreless leading to a shootout in Newark.
After five minutes of overtime, followed up by another five minutes of the zamboni cleaning up the ice, the teams would commence the shootout. The lineups were as followed, DeBoer would send Kovalchuk, Parise, and Elias while John Tortorella would mimic the Devils head coach by sending Stepan, Richards, and Gaborik, saving the teams most prolific scorer to shoot third. It would wind up costing the Rangers the game. Kovalchuk would shoot first, recording the eventual GWSG (game winning shootout goal) as he fired a lazer, 5hole on Biron who appeared to be a statue on the first shot. Rangers forward Derek Stepan with the second shot of the shootout would move in on Brodeur, only to fire wide right of Marty's blocker. Parise next in line would be shut down, loud, by a pad save from Biron. Next for New York would be alternate captain Brad Richards. In Richards' shootout attempt, he too would be stopped by Martin Brodeur. The third shooter for the Devils, looking to close out the game, was Elias; Patrik drove straight forward on Biron, only to loose control of the puck while getting poke checked from the Rangers netminder. It was ultimatly left up to Marian Gaborik to keep the Big Apple in the game, as it was up to Marty to hand deliver the Garden State the victory over their Atlantic Division rivals. Gab's skated up, moved in on Brodeur... STOPPED! The Devils had defeated the Rangers in the shootout 4-3 awarding the team 2 MUCH needed points in a playoff picture which allowed New Jersey to climb to seventh in the East, remaining 4th in the Atlantic Division.
FINAL SO 3 - 4
The Devils' next game will be on Thursday evening against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. New Jersey looks to win their second straight at home, hoping to close out their home stand on a good note before heading to the City of Brotherly Love to play the Broad Street Bullies, the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, before returning home Sunday to play Evgeni Malkin and the Pens.