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Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Devils 5, Rangers 3

By Katie Strang



Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: The Rangers erased a three-goal deficit with a staggering comeback that almost made up for their disastrous start, but Ryan Carter's game winner with 4:24 remaining sapped all the life out of Madison Square Garden as the Devils pulled off a 5-3 stunner.

After rattling off two straight wins, the Devils head home with a 3-2 series lead and the chance to finish off their Hudson River rivals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday.

Gionta's a gem: Scoring the game's first goal and setting up the winner, New Jersey's Stephen Gionta's Cinderella story continues. The younger brother of former Devil Brian Gionta, Stephen has been a vital cog for the Devils as part of their productive fourth line since being recalled from the AHL for the team's regular-season finale last month.

Redemption shot: Dropped to the third line, struggling sniper Marian Gaborik earned his redemption with his third-period equalizer 17 seconds into play. Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur strayed from the crease and misplayed the puck, allowing Gaborik to bank the game-tying goal off his pads. Gaborik's turnaround was a dramatic one; he bungled a ripe opportunity early in the first with the Rangers trailing 2-0, missing on an open net in front at 6:31.

Brodeur gets earful: Following Brodeur's miscue that led to Gaborik's goal, the crowd's trademark taunts reached a deafening level and continued throughout stoppages in the third period.

So much for starts: For all the talk about their poor starts, the Rangers fell victim once again, surrendering three goals less than 10 minutes into play.

The Devils' high-energy fourth line chipped in with Stephen Gionta's backhander 2:43 into play, and the Rangers found themselves down two goals after Adam Henrique's shot glanced off Patrik Elias and Artem Anisimov less than two minutes later. Top-line center Travis Zajac ripped a sharp wrist shot across the grain to beat goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for a 3-0 Devils lead 9:48 into play.

Prust sparks crowd: After pacing through Game 4 while serving a one-game suspension, Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust returned to ignite the MSG crowd with a goal to whittle the Devils' lead to 3-1 with 4:19 left in the first period.

Captain in the crease: It took the Rangers all of 32 seconds to whittle the Devils' lead to one goal. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan redirected the puck past Brodeur on the first shift of the second period. The goal was reviewed but ultimately upheld because the puck deflected off Callahan's leg, not skate.

Brandons are back: Sidelined for almost a month, Brandon Dubinsky returned to the lineup Wednesday for the first time since suffering a right foot injury in Game 7 of the quarterfinals April 26. The 26-year-old forward played on a line with Anisimov and Callahan. Prust also came back after sitting out Game 4 while serving a one-game suspension for his elbow on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3. John Mitchell and Steve Eminger were healthy scratches.

Up next: Devils versus Rangers, 8 p.m. ET Friday in Newark.