Devils even series with 3-2 win over Rangers, gain home ice advantage

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- When the Eastern Conference finals began Monday night, the New Jersey Devils played even with the New York Rangers over the first two periods, only for a goal early in the third period to make the difference for the Broadway Blueshirts.
On Wednesday, the Devils paid back their Hudson River rivals in kind.
David Clarkson scored 2:31 into the third period, Martin Brodeur made 23 saves, and the Devils evened their series against the Rangers with a 3-2 victory at Madison Square Garden, seizing home-ice advantage as the series shifts venues to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
"It's a lot better than being down 2-0," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "It's a tough building - it's a really hard building to play in. After losing the first one, we really wanted to get this one, and we did a good job."
On a night that was filled with deflections, the Devils got the biggest one early in the final period, when Clarkson deflected rookie Adam Henrique's high shot down into the net to break a 2-2 tie with his third goal of the playoffs. It was a hard-earned lead, as the Devils let an early advantage slip before fighting their way back into the game.
"It's been a fun ride," Clarkson said of his postseason success. "I don't know if it's getting good bounces or what's happening, but it's been fun. With team success, individuals get success and that's what's happening."
The sing-song chant of "Marty" -- a staple of the Madison Square Garden crowd whenever Brodeur is in town -- was in effect from the moment the teams hit the ice. But it was Henrik Lundqvist who saw the first serious test, as Henrique was left all alone in front. His shot went wide, however, and the Rangers held the Devils without a shot on goal for the first six minutes of play, finally allowing a puck to reach Lundqvist during a Devils power play.
New Jersey, however, showed its own defensive prowess, and the teams had just two shots apiece midway through the first period.
Things picked up during a Rangers power play, but Brodeur was up to the task with a pair of saves on Michael Del Zotto's shot from the point and Marian Gaborik's rebound try. A power play for the Devils on a Brian Boyle slashing call, however, yielded more results, as Ilya Kovalchuk fired a hard wrist shot to the top corner of the net on Lundqvist's glove side for his sixth goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 Devils lead.
"I think the first period wasn't what we wanted," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "Their forecheck and battles in the corners, they were coming out with more of those than we were. That's something that we can fix and we are going to."
The Rangers tied the game 2:23 into the second period on a power play goal, the third tally of the playoffs by Marc Staal. Staal's initial shot went wide of the net and caromed off the boards, but the puck bounced off of Brodeur's leg as he tried to stop a potential rebound try by Derek Stepan and found the back of the net.
The Rangers then took their first lead of the night with 7:41 left in the middle frame on another power play goal, this one by Chris Kreider with Travis Zajac in the box for interference. With the Devils pressuring Anton Stralman at the point, the Swedish defenseman worked a give-and-go with Artem Anisimov, opening up space for him to skate up the right-wing boards and take a wrist shot that deflected off of the shaft of Kreider's stick and past Brodeur for the rookie's fourth goal of the playoffs.
The Devils got an equalizer with 1:51 remaining before the second intermission on the second goal of the playoffs for Ryan Carter, who got the deflection on a Bryce Salvador blast from the point that beat Lundqvist to tie the game.
"Your fourth line gets out there and crashes and bangs and creates some momentum and scores a big goal for us," Devils head coach Pete DeBoer said. "It's been the story of the playoffs: we've had somebody different every night."
That set up the third period, which began with Clarkson's goal and ended with a frustrated Rangers team losing Game 2 for the third consecutive round.
"We've been in this situation before," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "We just have to go into Jersey and try to get that next game. We can't get down. Like I said, we've been in this situation before and we've come through."
The series continues Saturday. Game time is 1 p.m. ET for a national broadcast on NBC.
NOTES: Before Wednesday, the Rangers were 1-4 in the playoffs when trailing after the first period. ... The game was delayed just before Zajac's penalty began while the door to the Devils' penalty box was repaired. ... Former Rangers forward Stephane Matteau, whose overtime goal in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals propelled the Rangers toward the Stanley Cup, was in attendance for Wednesday night's game, along with Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Kate Upton, "Today Show" host Matt Lauer and actor Vince Vaughn.