Marshall scored on a rebound at 11:12 of the third overtime, and the Devils eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Friday night.
The Devils will face the winner of the Philadelphia-Ottawa series for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. The Flyers and Senators are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series.
Marshall, who scored three goals in the series, was waiting for the bus to leave for the game when he went to get a drink.
“I still had 15 minutes, so I thought I had plenty of time,” Marshall said. “I glanced out and the bus was pulling away. I had to run out to get the bus and (coach) Pat (Burns) was joking saying it wasn’t him.”
Marshall was in the right spot in the third overtime to send the Devils to their fourth appearance in the conference finals since 1995.
Scott Niedermayer, who scored the Devils’ other goal, took a shot from above the right circle into a crowd in front of the goal.
The puck fell at Marshall’s feet and he backhanded it into the net.
“I just kept whacking at it,” Marshall said. “I just stepped and fired it five-hole. My goals aren’t the prettiest. but as long as I can have one that’s great. During the intermission, I was thinking how great it would be to get a game-winner.”
The Devils have not lost a conference final since 1994 against the Rangers. They have won two Stanley Cups and lost a third in a deciding Game 7 to Colorado in 2001.
“We’re only halfway there, but the way things are going in the NHL this year, you never know,” Devils captain Scott Stevens said. “We took a big step tonight winning this game.”
Martin Brodeur, who allowed just eight goals in the five games against the Lightning, made 38 saves in the second-longest game in Devils history.
Nikita Alexeev scored for the Lightning, who reached the conference semifinals for the first time in their 11-year existence.
“You don’t want this to be a one-time thing and rest on your laurels,” Lightning coach John Tortorella said. “You have to keep on building. You don’t want a one-year thing. I know we had fun playing in the playoffs and we’d like to come back next year.”
Tampa Bay rallied from an 0-2 series deficit to beat Washington in the opening round, but never threatened New Jersey after losing the first two games in this series.
“A game like that, it’s great when you win and devastating when you lose,” Grahame said.
Grahame and Brodeur both had big saves in the overtime periods to keep the game going.
Grahame, who never appeared in the postseason and hadn’t played since the final game of the regular season, stopped John Madden on a point-blank rebound of Jamie Langenbrunner’s shot with 8:23 to go in the first overtime. He also stopped a shot in close by Brian Gionta.
In the second overtime, Grahame stopped Langenbrunner with a shoulder save and made an armpit save on Scott Gomez.
Brodeur also had good stops on Ruslan Fedotenko and St. Louis in the first overtime.
“They played well,” Brodeur said. “They had no tomorrow and they played a solid game and their goalie was awesome. We kept shooting pucks at the net and got rewarded.”
Alexeev gave the Lightning the lead at 11:18, beating Brodeur on a two-on-one break after Niedermayer got caught deep in the Tampa Bay zone.
Niedermayer made up for the mistake a little more than two minutes later, scoring in close on a power play. The Devils seemingly got away with a couple of penalties just before the goal.
Gomez sent Dave Andreychuk to the ice with a tug and Marshall knocked defenseman Cory Sarich off balance. That allowed Niedermayer to get the puck inside the circles for a shot that beat Grahame along the ice.
Modin, who was in the penalty box when Niedermayer scored, thought he gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 8:18 left in the second period on a rebound in close.
However, the goal was disallowed when video replays showed Modin kicked the puck into the net—although the Lightning could have argued Modin was hit frombehind forcing his leg forward.
Devils D Oleg Tverdovsky was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. New Jersey RW Turner Stevenson missed his second straight game with a groin injury. … Other than the goaltender, the Lightning did not make any other lineup changes. … Alexeev, the eighth pick overall in the 2000 draft, got his first postseason goal and point. … Tampa Bay did not have a powerplay.