Ryan Carter’s goal with 4:24 remaining in the third period helped the New Jersey Devils retake the lead that they would not relinquish a second time around. Carter’s goal coupled with later empty netter by Zach Parise gave the Devils a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the win, the Devils seize control of the series from their cross Hudson rival in taking a 3 games to 2 lead, and with the spoils of this victory have a chance to close out the series Friday night at Newark in Game Six. The Devils for the game only managed 17 shots on goal, however made the most of the opportunities they had both early and late. New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur had 25 saves for the game, including seven in the final period after giving up the game tying goal to Marian Gaborik just 17 seconds into the third period.
Stephen Gionta, Patrik Elias, and Travis Zajac scored the Devils first three goals inside of the first 10 minutes of the opening period, doing so on just a team total of four shots on goal up through this point. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who’s two shutouts in Game One and Three of the series account for both New York wins in this series did not seem to have it early as two of the three goals scored in the first 4:13 of the contest. The Rangers despite the huge early 3-0 hole would start to claw their way back late in the first period as Brandon Prust scored with just under four and a half minutes left despite practically being tackled on the way to the net, still managing to slide the puck under Brodeur five hole to help draw the home standing Rangers to withing two goals.
In the second period Rangers’ Captain Ryan Callahan would deflect a slap shot taken from the left corner by Artem Anisimov. Callahan’s tip in past Brodeur to pulled New York to within 3-2 just 32 seconds into the new period. Later during a power play opportunity Callahan would get a chance to tie the game when a hot rebound of a Brad Richards shot came right to him. However despite the opportunity and having Brodeur already beaten, Callahan’s up close wrister hit the crossbar and ricocheted away from the New Jersey goal. Despite outplaying the Devils in the period, the Rangers would not get the equalizer until early in the third period. Gaborik would take advantage of a bad clearing attempt by Brodeur who was trying to get the rubber biscuit over to a few Devils who were deep in the New Jersey defensive zone. Gaborik intercepted the errant puck, then drilled the rubber biscuit off of the back of Brodeur’s leg and into the net for the game tying goal.
The Rangers would carry a good deal of the play in the final period however could never find that fourth goal that would complete their comeback. New Jersey however would make the most of a key scoring chance late in the period when the Devils’ Carter was the recipient of a Stephen Gionta pass from behind the Rangers goal. Gionta’s feed pass was perfect as Carter got the puck on the tape and knocked past Lundqvist who had really no time to react. After taking a 4-3 lead, New Jersey put up a fairly strong defense that made it difficult for the Rangers to cross into the Devils defensive zone. Zach Parise would leave no doubt about the outcome as the Rangers failed to hold the zone with :34 seconds remaining, resulting in an empty net goal from Parise.
With the win, the Devils bring the Eastern Conference Finals back to the Prudential Center in Newark for a Game Six to be played Friday Night (8pm ET/5pm PT). The Rangers have their backs to the wall for the second time in these playoffs. The Rangers also lost Game Five at home to the Ottawa Senators in the first found of these playoffs before rallying to take Game Six on the road, then winning a close one goal decision in Game Seven. The Rangers will be looking to force a Game Seven in this series too, and if they are successful it will make for three straight series that have gone the seven game limit. For New Jersey, a win in Game Six would allow them to eliminate the New York Rangers and move on to the Stanley Cup Finals to play the Los Angeles Kings. If the Devils win, the Stanley Cup Final will certainly be a finals that likely few if any would have picked before the season had started, or perhaps before these playoffs started. The Kings are going into the finals as the 8th and final seed in the West, the Devils would go into the finals as the 6th seeded team in the East.
Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals will be played next Wednesday May 30th with an 8pm Eastern Time/5pm Pacific Time game start.
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