Rangers eliminate Devils in 5 games

April 18, 2008 7:22:08 PM PDT
The New York Rangers rocked the New Jersey Devils' house like no team and rolled right into the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.The Rangers trailed for 18 seconds in the first period before scoring four straight times and holding on for a 5-3 victory Friday night that ended the best-of-seven series in five games.

New Jersey's John Madden was awarded a penalty shot with 7:08 left in the third period after Michal Rozsival dragged him down with a sweeping dive with his stick. Madden couldn't net the tying goal when his backhander at the right post was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist's pads.

Brandon Dubinsky sealed New York's second straight 5-3 win with an empty-net goal with 59.1 seconds left.

Never had a team won three road games against New Jersey in a playoff series, but the Rangers did it in the first season at the Devils' new arena, Prudential Center, affectionately known as "The Rock."

New York took the first two on the road before splitting two at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers beat New Jersey seven of eight times in the regular season, with the only loss coming on the final day when the Devils secured home-ice advantage in the first-round matchup.

It was anything but.

After Brian Gionta gave the Devils a 1-0 lead 4:40 in, Rozsival answered at 4:58. Jaromir Jagr and former New Jersey star Scott Gomez scored to make it 3-1 for New York, outshot 9-7 in the first period that was played largely in the Rangers zone.

Chris Drury pushed the lead to 4-1 early in the second, but a freak goal from the neutral zone by Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador and Patrik Elias' 5-on-3 tally cut the deficit to one before the middle period expired.

The Devils outshot the Rangers 11-3 in the third and pressed heavily throughout, but couldn't beat Lundqvist again.

Only once in the tight regular season did the Rangers score more than four goals against Martin Brodeur, but they did it in back-to-back wins in this series to finish off the Devils. The home team won just one of the five games, New York's 5-3 victory on Wednesday that gave the Rangers a commanding 3-1 series edge.

Lundqvist yielded three goals to the Devils for the third straight game after not doing it for 16 straight. Still, he has the Rangers in the second round for the second consecutive season after a 10-year absence.

New York will have to wait for other Eastern matchups to end to find out its next opponent.

With the Rangers three goals ahead and the building quiet, Salvador's unorthodox goal at 9:26 of the second gave the Devils new life.

Salvador wound up for a drive between the blue line and center ice circle. Dubinsky raised his arm to shield his face, and was struck by the puck. It then took a hop and hit the post before caroming into the net off Lundqvist.

Dubinsky and defenseman Marc Staal, who scored the winning goal late in Game 4, took consecutive penalties 29 seconds apart to give New Jersey a two-man power play. Elias struck with a little help from the Rangers.

Fedor Tyutin took a backhanded swipe at the loose puck in front and whiffed. Elias smacked the puck, which struck Tyutin's leg and found the net with 6:10 left in the period.

If not for a clutch save by Lundqvist on Sergei Brylin in the closing seconds of the frame, the Devils would've tied it.

Gionta sparked the home crowd with his first of the series, but Rozsival tied it with his first before Gionta's was even announced. Jagr made it 2-1 at 6:38 as the sound system blared in an attempt to drown out cheering Rangers fans that filled large pockets of the arena. Gomez, in his first season with New York, tormented his former teammates again with his third at 18:01.

Drury took Nigel Dawes' long feed from the left-wing boards to the right circle and snapped a shot past Brodeur, who made his 158th consecutive playoff start for the Devils, at 5:35.