NEWARK, NJ — The New Jersey Devils attempted 65 shots against Henrik Lundqvist in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, with 36 of them finding the net.
"There's no way New Jersey can play like that for 60 minutes," said Lundqvist.
"As a goalie, you know sooner or later it's gonna turn. It's gonna turn in our favor. We're going to get a chance. We're going to get a break. That's the feeling I had."
The Rangers got their break on a Dan Girardi power-play goal, and a Chris Kreider deflection goal 1:57 later, to open the third period. Lundqvist did the rest, posting his second shutout against the Devils and third of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Their power play was better than ours. That was the difference in the game," said Ilya Kovalchuk.
"The goalie was the difference. I thought we created some real good looks, but your goaltender's the best penalty killer," said Coach Pete DeBoer.
They were both right.
The Devils went 0-for-5 on the man advantage, and are 1-for-12 in the series. The Rangers, meanwhile, scored their fourth power-play goal of the series, as the top penalty killing unit in the regular season continued to struggle in the postseason.
Lundqvist made eight saves on the kill, giving the Rangers the type of dominating, confident performance they needed after the Devils broke through for three goals in Game 2.
"We didn't panic, and that's the big thing. We've had moments during the year when we've gotten into some tough minutes," said Lundqvist.
He was especially good against Kovalchuk, who beat him cleanly in Game 2 on the power play. Kovalchuk led the Devils with six shots, including a breakaway chance that Lundqvist snuffed out with his glove.
"He had a couple of big chances. I was lucky tonight on a couple of chances where I made the first move, and ended up making a save," said Lundqvist.A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.
"I beat him and he just put his arm there. I should have put it up," said Kovalchuk.
Are the Devils frustrated? Zach Parise didn't speak to the media after the game — for perhaps the first time as Devils captain — as he has one goal and three points in his last seven playoff games. (Some recent reporting involving his father linking Parise up with the Rangers this summer probably played a part in the radio silence.)
Kovalchuk showed visible frustration during the game on missed opportunities.
"What are you going to do? It's a lot of hockey left," said Kovalchuk. "We can't change our game or get frustrated."
Deboer agreed, saying that they last thing the Devils needed was too much introspection.
"When you lose a game like this, where you out-chance and outplay another team for long stretches, it's easy to look at it under a microscope and say, 'Oh boy, they played two great shifts here and that was the difference in the game.' We strung together six or seven great shifts. We didn't capitalize on it. That's the story of the game," DeBoer said.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself."
Brodeur called the loss a "copy of Game 1" — and not just because Dan Girardi and Chris Kreider scored the first two goals of the game in the third period of both losses. It was because this is the second time Lundqvist has been the difference between victory and defeat.
"When he's playing well, it's always a challenge for the team. But we know how to score goals on him," Brodeur (19 saves) said.
"I think if he throw as many pucks as we did, as many chances, hopefully he'll have an off night eventually and we'll score a few goals."
The battle between 40-year-old Brodeur and Lundqvist, 10 years his junior, has been the most compelling matchup of the series. Again, both had stellar saves and solid play throughout Game 3, thrilling a crowd that tipped heavily to Devils fans.
But at the end of the game, after Ryan Callahan scored into an empty net to make it 3-0, the Rangers faithful remaining at The Rock joined in the sing-song Brodeur taunt heard at MSG:
"It's [our] momentum that dictates how our crowd will be in our building, because there are a lot of Rangers fans. I guess with the money [they have], they sit beside us too," joked Brodeur. "We just have to give [our fans] a reason to cheer for us."
The next chance comes in Game 4 on Monday. But if his performance on Saturday afternoon was any indication, Lundqvist could very well deny it.
"Today was a good day," said the Rangers netminder.