Full disclosure: This entire post is just an excuse to show you this unbelievable photo by Bruce Bennett.
Unfortunately, these 40 minutes were bookended on either side by 10 minutes that they did not control. During those 20 minutes, the Devils scored 5 times on 7 shots, and that was all the offence they'd need in a 5-3 win.
It was a strange Game 5 -- "An adventure," according to Devils coach Peter DeBoer -- with all sorts of unexpected offense and strange bounces. The Devils came out flying, beating Henrik Lundqvist twice in the first five minutes. Stephen Gionta opened the scoring after finding himself alone with a rebound in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Then, just two minutes later, Patrik Elias doubled the lead when an Adam Henrique point shot pinballed around like it was teaching children how to count to 12 before deflecting off the back of his leg and in.
Five minutes later, Travis Zajac stunned the Madison Square crowd when he extended the lead with a perfectly-placed wrister off the rush.
This put the Rangers in a tough spot. They had only reached four goals in a game once this poststeason -- in the playoff opener versus the Ottawa Senators in April 12. But they were undeterred by the daunting task, and they put their game into overdrive.
Also they got some luck.
Brandon Prust put the Rangers on the board before the first period had ended, fighting off the check of Marek Zidlicky to muscle a puck toward the goal, where Marty Brodeur misplayed it, missing on a pokecheck and watching it slide underneath him.
Then, just 30 seconds into the second, Ryan Callahan matched Patrik Elias's good fortune from the period prior when he had a puck go in off his leg (although he helped it along a little).
And finally, the Devils' lead was erased just 17 seconds in the third period when the trapezoid finally got Marty Brodeur:
A routine play of the puck turned into an adventure for Brodeur when it hopped over his stick and into the no-zone. With Marian Gaborik bearing down on him, Brodeur retreated back into the goal, but not before Gaborik threw the puck into his feet. It eventually found its way in.
Then it was the Devils turn to shrug off an unfortunate string of events, and they did it.
Again, it was Stephen Gionta getting the ball rolling, as he made a beautiful pass to Ryan Carter in front of Henrik Lundqvist.
Carter made no mistake, putting the Devils ahead for good.
Peter DeBoer would praise Gionta's whole line for their performance Wednesay:
Our whole fourth line, I thought they were the story tonight," he said. "Gionta gets a goal, Carter gets a goal, Bernie gave us some big minutes. They really have given us momentum throughout the playoffs. And that's playoff hockey. There's always unsung heroes and guys that step up this time of year, and we've got a bunch of them."
Now, the Devils head back to the Prudential Center with a chance to close out the series and head to the Stanley Cup Final, and if that isn't enough motivation, they've got some history to correct as well.
The two teams were in this exact position in 1994, with the Devils heading home up 3-2 when Rangers' Captain Mark Messier guaranteed a Game 6 win and delivered, sending the series back to Madison Square Garden for Game 7 and Stephane Matteau's double overtime series winner.
But these aren't the 1994 Devils; and if the 3-man forecheck with under two minutes to go and a one-goal lead didn't convince you, they'll be looking to make it official in Game 6 in Newark on Friday.
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