Monday, April 14, 2008
The biggest and more relevant story within this game was the Devils' performance. They took the puck to the net more and finally broke through Henrik Lundqvist with varying attacks. They scored on the power play. Twice. A rarity for the Devils in general! They even had...the lead. Yes, the lead. Emphasis is on the had; as the Rangers did equalize twice in this contest. Most notable of all, the Devils got the bounces with two unfortunate own goals by the Rangers. The first, Sergei Brylin was in the right place to draw the sticks of two Rangers. A careening puck from Aaron Asham did not hit Brylin's leg; but the shaft of Blair Betts to give NJ the early lead. The overtime winner was the result of a big faceoff win by John Madden, Jay Pandolfo closing off Michael Rozsival, Madden throwing it into the slot and bouncing right off Marc Staal's skate and in. Ugly? Yes. Wonderful? You bet. They worked their tails off throughout overtime, outplayed the Rangers in those 6 minutes and 1 second, and got the deserved result. I was happy, Kevin Smith was happy, Steve Stirling is pleased, and even IPB is continuing their Ric Flair impersonation.
To be fair, the Devils did have some troubles. They slowed down in the later part of the first period and Martin Brodeur let up a soft one from Brandon Dubinsky. In the first half of the second period, the Rangers capitalized on a two-man advantage and dictated much of the pace of the game then. The Devils also got caught again shorthanded with Dubinsky scoring on a one-timer in the slot early in the third period. The penalty killing last night left a lot to be desired. The two-man disadvantage, I understand. You can't just key in on one player when there's only three on the ice. But the second one, someone really should have tied up Dubinsky.
Yet, the Devils have a lot to be proud of. They were threatening on their eight power plays and potted in two in the second period after the Avery goal. The Devils were mad, they got physical, and Mike Rupp had some choice words for Paul Mara that got picked up by Versus' microphones that you may or may not find on YouTube. And they were rewarded. How? Taking it to the net created the opportunities for goals. Patrik Elias had a laser coming in late into the slot; and Zach Parise slapped a puck that trickled in after some chaos up front.
Most of all, they held tough in a physical game and got the win when both teams shot evenly. An exciting hockey game, filled with passion, energy, emotion, and lots and lots of concern and cursing by all involved. Devils out hit the Rangers 49-47 (leading hitters: Colin White, Jamie Langenbrunner - seriously); Devils outshot the Rangers 33-30; and the Devils got the bounces to win the game.
Of course, should NJ drop Wednesday's game, then this would all be for naught. This game was excellent as it breathes life into New Jersey; but Game 4 will determine whether or not the Devils have it in them to make a serious comeback. I certainly hope so. Gulitti has more quotes from the team that shows that they know they got to win. But it's still up to them.