Monday, May 14, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Devils 0
By Katie Strang
What it means: In a series featuring two of the game's elite goaltenders -- the best of all time vs. the best right now -- the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist came through as king of the crease, shutting out the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Martin Brodeur hardly deserved the jeers he received from the raucous Rangers fans, but Lundqvist was dominant in making 21 stops to lead the way in the Blueshirts' 3-0 win at Madison Square Garden. Despite controlling play for sustained stretches throughout the game, the Devils surrendered the series opener after third-period goals from Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and rookie Chris Kreider, and an empty-netter from Artem Anisimov.
Redemption shot: Girardi redeemed himself early in the third after an ugly second-period giveaway that almost cost his team a goal. The All-Star blueliner blasted one past Brodeur just 53 seconds into the third period to snap a scoreless tie and record his second goal of the playoffs.
Rookie responds: Limited for the latter half of the Rangers' second-round set against the Capitals, Kreider responded in his first taste of the Rangers-Devils rivalry with a key power-play goal in the third. Burying a feed from Anisimov, the 21-year-old winger ripped one past Brodeur at the 12-minute mark for a 2-0 Rangers lead.
Mac attack: Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh effectively snuffed out the Devils’ two best scoring chances of the first period with an inspired back-checking effort. The second-year defenseman, used as part of the Rangers’ steady shutdown pair with Girardi, first broke up Zach Parise's mini-breakaway at 6:10 and then later angled in to force Ilya Kovalchuk to his backhand on a rush later in the frame.
Rapid fire: Although the Devils carried play in the second period -- wearing down the Rangers with a hard fore-checking effort and extended zone time -- a locked-in Lundqvist kept them off the scoreboard. Facing a short-handed flurry with less than six minutes remaining, Lundqvist denied Parise on three rapid-fire attempts in a span of three seconds. Devils rookie Adam Henrique set up the barrage, knocking Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman off the puck behind the goal line.
Girardi gaffe: New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus almost had a lay-up after a rare mistake by Girardi in his own end during the second period. The usually steady top-pair defenseman coughed the puck up from behind the net right to Zubrus but was fortunate to have Lundqvist bail him out with the save 2:08 into the middle frame.
Hockey tough: Devils veteran Patrik Elias took a puck to the face in the final minutes of the first period, but didn’t even leave the bench as the team trainer repaired his bloody nose. The 36-year-old forward returned to the game for the third period.
Up Next: Rangers vs. Devils, Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.