The New Jersey Devils have delivered! In wake of some 'words of wisdom' from alternate captain Patrik Elias to the media, "We're not done yet", this team proved to the hockey world that in fact, they're not done yet. With a tatic that only you'd expect from Philadelphia, New Jersey tried a bit of the mind-games to COMPLETELY alter the mind set of the opponent. Boy, did it work today! New Jersey was disciplined. Very disciplined for that matter, giving New York one powerplay opportunity on the evening (Anton Volchenkov, 18:20, 1st period, tripping) in which the Devils would kill off. As for the Devs' PP opportunities, something in which has been a key place for improvement this post season, it'd finally click! After going up 2 quick goals early on in the first, the lone powerplay goal of the evening would be punched through Lundqvist's "Bryzgalov", the second goal of the night Hank would allow to squeeze through his wickets.
The ice was tilted yet again for what looked to be the 4th consecutive game in which Jersey's Team would rule the majority of the posession and lead the way in opportunities. It was as if New York was just handing the Devils opportunities, allowing the Dev's to cap off the night with 10 take aways, a statistic that'll probably go by the way side in the aftermath of this penalty filled game. 43-23 PIM in favor of the Rags. McDonagh & Henrique (shwon in the picture above) got involved in a short scrap early in the first, breaking through on the box score penalty sheet. Following suit to the two 5 min. fighting majors, NY would go short handed on a Brian Boyle holding call which would be killed off and then the period being wrapped up with an Anton Volchenkov penalty for tripping. Volchie's penalty would lapse over into the second period, but, would be killed by the Devils. Penalties weren't the only thing to hit the box score in the opening 20; along with the four penalties to be assessed, two goals would be marked up on the score sheet, in the "New Jersey" column. The opening goal would come from a drive on the point from one of this team's unsung heroes, Devils D-man Bryce Salvador recorded yet another goal this post season as he sent a blue-line blast all the way through traffic and in between the legs of Lundqvist to put New Jersey on the board, 1-0. Salvador's goal, his 3rd of the playoffs would help increase his rising point total to 9pts in 15 games played which is a tremendous statistic considering Bryce had 0 goals and 9 assists for 9pts in 82 games in the regular season. Salvy's goal was assisted by Ponikarovsky & Clarkson. Nearly four minutes later, a sloppy defensive play from Michael Del Zotto would lead to the ensuing 2 on 1 odd man rush for New Jersey, Parise on the right wing with Zajac driving the net to "King" Henrik's right. Parise lifting the puck over a trailing Rangers defenseman would put the puck right on the tape of Zajac who would bury the shot up top, "Where Momma' Hides the Cookies", bar-down for the even strength goal to propel the Devils to an early 2-0 lead. An early lead for either team is excessively important in a close series like this, even MORE so when you're putting two goals up on the nearly flawless Henrik Lundqvist. I mean, you have to give the guy credit... he has played WELL above expectations & has truly been the back bone of this Rangers hockey club down the stretch, having to steal BIG games with BIG saves night after night.
A rather, relativly SLOWER second period would have no goals and a couple penalties, an offsetting minor penalty would be awarded to a little bit of "childs play" between Kovy and Cally. When an initial save was made by Hank, a steadfast Ilya Kovalchuk could not manage to put on the brakes quite quick enough as he ran into the back of a Rangers defenseman, initiating Ryan Callahan to throw a jab at the side of Kovy's head which would lead to Ilya retaliating imaturely, poking Cally in the crotch with his stick. Both would sit in the sin bin for a deuce. This little scrum would ultimately be a foreshadowing of what was yet to come from these two bitter rivals. Brodeur and Lundqvist would close off all shots faced in the middle period of play, Marty was 11-11 on shots faced where as Hank was 9-9.
In this Eastern Conference Finals matchup between two Atlantic Division rivals, a rivalry that dates back to 1982 with many numerous historic moments, its only a matter of time before THIS playoff series etches its way into the Hudson River Rivalry Story Book. The third period would certainly be a good start for the physicality & the TRUE, blood boiling tension between New York and New Jersey, all beginning with two former teammates; their names, Michael Rupp, and Martin Brodeur.
This period, all hell broke loose at The Rock. Fists thrown, goals scored, clutch saves, and tempers flairing would be the highlight of the period and ULTIMATELY the game. Early on, Derek Stepan would take a call for hi-sticking which would lead to the lone powerplay goal of the evening scored by New Jersey's captain Zach Parise. Parise would gain his 2nd of 3 points of the evening being credited the 1st star of the game after a terrific effort all around in what many believed to be a must-win for the Devils, being down 2-1 in the series. With teams back at even strength, Michael Rupp would go after a loose puck behind Brodeur's cage, lunging up drawing the delayed penalty, a double minor for roughing. Once the puck was touched up, it would only escalate. As Rupp was being escorted towards the penalty box by referee's, he managed to slither his way infront of Brodeur, in which, he proceeded to throw a jab at the mask of the future Hall of Famer, leading to an eruption by the Devils' team on the ice, in the stands, on the bench, on their couches, and on the internet. With players literally LUNGING at Rupp to get a piece of him, John Tortorella took it upon himself to initiate a shouting match between himself and and Dev's head coach Pete DeBoer (both head coaches declined comments in post game interviews). After all was said and done, Michael Rupp would be piled on with a total of 14 minutes worth of penalties, along with offsetting minors awarded to Stu Bickle and Ryan Carter. About 2 minutes later, New Jersey would be credited with a potential 5-3 powerplay opportunity in which New Jersey could not deliver on when Carl Hagelin would take his first of back-to-back penalties. Eventually, BOTH Hagelin penalties would be killed by the Rangers. Before the conclusion of the game, with nearly 5 minutes remaining, Brodeur's goose egg would be cracked on a Ruslan Fedotenko goal from the top of the faceoff circle, beating Brodeur low blocker side, bringing the score, 3-1. That would'nt be all! Down by 2, Torts would give Hank the call to the bench, sending the extra attacker onto the ice. The 6-5 Rangers advantage would not work. Zach Parise would cap off arguably his most explosive, playoff game of his young career, and a very important one at that, doing what many are comparing to the heroic leadership characteristics of Shane Doan in G4 of the PHX-LA series. On Parise's goal, Martin Brodeur would be credited with the primary assist, handing Marty yet ANOTHER NHL record. Brodeurs 4th assist of this post season (leading all goalies with 4pts) makes him the 1st goaltender to record 4pts in a single playoff series in NHL history. The Devils and Rags would send Ponikarovsky & Del Zotto to the locker rooms for offsetting minors late in the third, wrapping up a very dominant game, 4-1 the final!
The Devils' win tonight knots up the Eastern Conference Finals series 2 games a piece heading into Wednesday evening back at MSG, 8:00pm. New Jersey looks to take a 3-2 Series lead before heading home to the Prudential Center Friday night where we all hope they can close out the Rangers! Be sure to check out our "RWTD" app for iPhone & Android! As for social networking, we have our outlets as well! Follow us on twitter at: @RWTDblog @DEVIN88MATTERA, @RealScottRobb and @Rvaidya33. Along with twitter, be sure to check out our facebook page or find us on Instagram, "rwtdblog". Be sure to hashtag #RWTD ! From all of us here on Running With The Devils, Im Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans!