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New Jersey returns to Stanley Cup Finals

The SportsXchange

Reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2003 is special enough on its own. But getting

there by beating the rival Rangers to get there has to make it even better for the Devils, who host the

Kings Wednesday night in Game 1 of the final round.

On the 18th anniversary of the game Mark Messier guaranteed a Rangers win in Game 6 and then delivered

it with a hat trick, rookie Adam Henrique, who was four on that fateful day in the history of both teams,

poked the puck home 63 seconds into overtime as the Devils escaped with a 3-2 victory on this year's Game

6.

Henrique also scored the overtime goal that eliminated the Panthers in the first round -- and this was

his first goal since.

"That's a big one," said Henrique, one of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy as the league's top

rookie. "That's one you dream about."

It came after the Devils, who have reached the finals for the fifth time, again blew a lead, this one 2

-0 in the first period.

"It didn't matter how it got to overtime, we were in a good position," said captain Zach Parise. "We

were at home. We just needed one shot."

The sixth-seeded Devils, who beat the No. 1 Rangers by winning the last three games after trailing 2-1,

beat the Kings both times the teams played but that was way back in October and so much has happened to

both teams since then. For one thing, Terry Murray was the LA coach back and then and now it's Darryl

Sutter.

Los Angeles, which has never won the Cup and is in the finals for the first time since 1993, made the

playoffs as the No. 8 seed but then beat No. 1 Vancouver, No. 2 St. Louis and No. 3 Phoenix, losing only

two games along the way.

The Devils' fourth line, which gave the Rangers so much trouble in the series, struck again Friday

night, with left wing Ryan Carter scoring the game's first goal. Right wing Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and

an assist.

"For the Devils organization to be back where we belong is a great feeling," said right wing David

Clarkson.
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