Devils thwart Rangers' rally, take 3-2 series lead

By Ira Podell

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Gionta got the Devils going 2:43 in when he gathered a rebound of Mark Fayne's shot right in front of Lundqvist, steadied himself without any pressure from the defense, and slipped in his third goal of the playoffs to start the barrage.

Elias made it 2-0 just 1:30 later on New Jersey's fourth shot of the night.

After Kovalchuk fumbled the puck just inside the blue line, he dived to keep it from leaving the Rangers' zone. The puck eventually came to Adam Henrique at the right point for a shot that was stopped by Lundqvist. Elias got it in front and scored his fourth.

Tortorella used his timeout then, but it made little difference. He appeared to be calm as he moved back and forth behind the bench while talking to his players. Whatever the message was didn't sink in.

New York generated a couple of scoring chances soon after that were either turned aside by Brodeur or thwarted by the Rangers themselves. Gaborik was set up in front after teammate Ruslan Fedotenko got the puck to him after a wraparound the Devils net, but the Rangers' struggling leading scorer fired a shot over the net from close range.

Fedotenko was in the middle of another chance moments later when he sent a shot in on Brodeur. The rebound came out to Derek Stepan, whose drive from in close was smothered by Brodeur.

The Devils shrugged those off and went back to padding their lead.

Just 5:26 after Elias' goal, Zajac made it 3-0 with his seventh of the playoffs. Bryce Salvador wiped out Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the offensive zone and started the play going the other way. Zajac got a clean shot from just inside the right circle that sailed past Lundqvist and beat him inside the left post at 9:49.

The tide began to turn the Rangers' way the rest of the period as they allowed only one shot the rest of the period and began cutting into the seemingly insurmountable deficit.

Prust, making his return following a one-game suspension for an elbow he delivered to the head of Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3, showed off a bit of scoring touch when he converted on a breakaway with 4:19 left in the first.

Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky turned over the puck in the neutral zone to Fedotenko, who fed a pass to the streaking Prust in the New Jersey end. Prust surged past the hardcharging Zidlicky and slid a backhander past Brodeur for his first goal of the playoffs.

The Rangers managed to outshoot the Devils 9-6 in the lopsided first period, but continued their sudden defensive dominance well into the second.

But not before they cut the Devils' lead down to a goal just 32 seconds into the second.

Brandon Dubinsky, back from a foot injury, fired a shot from the left point that was deflected in front and caromed toward the left corner. Artem Anisimov flung the puck back toward the crease and it struck the left skate of the driving Callahan and got past Brodeur. The goal stood up after a brief video review.

New Jersey didn't record its first shot of the period, and its second since its third goal, until Henrique put a puck in on Lundqvist 6:23 into the frame.

Lundqvist made just 12 saves en route to the loss and the Rangers allowed five goals for the first time all postseason.

To make the finals now, New York will have to win a third consecutive seven-game series. The Rangers have already played 19 postseason games.

Notes: Dubinsky had been sidelined since he was injured in the Rangers' victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the first round. He sat out all seven games of the second round against Washington and the first four against New Jersey. John Mitchell was scratched to make room in the lineup. Prust's return forced D Steve Eminger to sit out after he played the two previous games. ... Kovalchuk now has 10 assists in the postseason.

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