At a glance: After a tepid start to what was expected to be a nasty set between bitter rivals, the snarl came out in Game 4 as the Devils knotted the series with a 4-1 win against the Rangers. Tied at two games apiece, the Rangers and Devils clash in a pivotal Game 5 at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. As Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur surmised following his team’s latest victory: “I think the best hockey is yet to come.”
Prayer for offense: When asked what he could do to get his top-six forwards producing again, coach John Tortorella offered up an unorthodox suggestion: “Pray.” Tortorella was joking, but the Rangers’ scoring woes are no laughing matter. Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin have only one goal between them this series, in which the Rangers have combined for only nine in total.
Opponent set: With Dustin Penner’s overtime game-winner Tuesday night, the Kings dispatched the Coyotes and punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. Now L.A. waits to see whether they’ll head to Manhattan or Newark for Game 1 next Wednesday.
Zach attack: Limited to one assist in the first three games of the series, Devils captain Zach Parise delivered a stellar three-point performance in the team’s 4-1 win against the Rangers Monday. The 27-year-old winger tallied two goals and recorded one assist in leading his team to a decisive series-tying victory.
Dubinsky back? : With the Rangers in need of a “jolt” to their lineup, Brandon Dubinsky may be ready to return. The 26-year-old forward is expected to be available for the first time since suffering a right foot injury in the series finale of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Prust returns: After missing Game 4 while serving his one-game suspension for an elbow to Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3, Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust returns to the lineup. The gritty 28-year-old winger had previously played in all 82 regular-season and 17 playoff games for the Rangers this season.
Retaliation? Really? : Will the Devils be looking to retaliate for the punch that “stung” Brodeur in Game 4? Probably not, but given Mike Rupp’s brazen jab to his former teammate -- a blow that ignited a boisterous scrum on the ice and a war of words between the benches – New Jersey may be looking to rattle Vezina/Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist just a little bit.
Playoff performer: Held without a goal in 82 regular-season games, Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador is making up for lost time with his ample contributions. The 36-year-old veteran has chipped in for three goals and seven assists this post-season and has four points (one goal, three assists) through the first four games of this series.