Devils eliminate Rangers in Game 6, ending fear of the past, setting course for the future

It was all so familiar.

The New Jersey Devils' 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Rangers was like watching a clip show. The entire affair looked stitched together from old memories.

First, there was that 2-goal cushion, as the Devils took a commanding lead in the first period of Game 6, just as they had in Games 4 and 5. Ryan Carter opened the scoring, continuing the strong play of the Devils' fourth line by banging home a rebound on a 3-on-1 at the 10-minute mark. Then, 4 minutes later, Ilya Kovalchuk finished off one of the smoothest, sexiest power-play passing plays you're ever going to see to make it 2-0.

(Seriously, the goal was a sultry sax riff away from being something you can't show during primetime. When it was done, everybody spooned.)

But any fans with a recollection of 1994 were holding their breath. The Devils led 2-0 in Game 6 then too, people said. This one was retracing the tracks of the past far too eerily for anyone's comfort.

[Nicholas J. Cotsonika: New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur writes another special chapter in storybook career]

Sure enough, just as they had in 1994, the Rangers turned the game around and clawed their way back. The second period was a mirror image of the first, with New York matching New Jersey's two first period goals, almost right down to the time they were scored. Ruslan Fedotenko cut the lead in half at the 10-minute mark; Ryan Callahan eradicated the lead 4 minutes later.

And the Rangers kept coming. They controlled the final 40 minutes of this game, outshooting the Devils 21 to 12. It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before they broke through and scored that third goal.

But Martin Brodeur could not be stopped. He looked like the best goaltender in the world.

It was all so familiar.

Brodeur shut the door in the third period with a throwback performance for the ages. There were pad stacks, sweep checks, and moments when the goaltender looked downright unbeatable. It was vintage Brodeur.

And then it was Adam Henrique's turn to remind us of what had come before. 1:03 into overtime, the Calder nominee pounced on a loose puck on the goal line and stuffed it past Henrik Lundqvist, giving the Devils the game and the series, just as he did in Round 1 versus the Florida Panthers. That was a 3-2 overtime win as well.

It was all so familiar.

But in the end, the Devils don't have to compare this run to anything. They don't have to compare this game to anything. And they don't have to compare their players to past playoff heroes. These guys are playoff heroes now.

The Devils don't have to look back at all. They don't have time to look back. They've got a Stanley Cup Final to look forward to.

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