No foreplay this time. Devils up 3-2 in the series, Rangers need a road win to keep playing. Here we go…
Pregame: An almost eerie national anthem featuring a black woman named Arlette in a Devils jersey with her son by her side. The anthem was juust off-kilter a little, the atmosphere black, red and sinister.
18:30 — Hank makes the first huge save of the game, on a screamer by Kovalchuk. Barely got the glove on it and deflected it over the crossbar. My god, that was too close.
17:06 — That should be a penalty, I think as Salvador get his stick up under the mask of Callahan. Sure enough, a power play for the Rangers. An early chance here…
16:55 — Rangers are 4-15 on the power play in this series, 13-70 in the playoffs. Just FYI.
15:51 — SHORTHANDED 3-ON-1 FOR THE DEVILS… OFF THE POST!!! Someone restart my heart
15:00 — Power play over, no score. That column I wrote about Hank today? He may have just gotten a huge legacy assist from the right goalpost.
13:59 — Devils attacking with a fury, and a couple of re-directed shots almost get by Hank. The HENNNN-RIKKKKKKK chants start from the Devils crowd.
13:30 — “That was just luck” my father says after the replay of Zubrus’ shot hitting the post. “He completely missed it.”
11:42 — They’re peppering Hank with shots right now, five in the first eight minutes. “The Devils saw from the Washington [Capitals] series — go high,” sideline reporter Pierre LeBrun says. Also, the Devils have at least four guys that can put the puck up high at will (Kovalchuk, Parise, Zajac, Elias). That doesn’t hurt.
9:55 — Lundqvist stones a point-blank shot from Zajac on a 3-on-1, but Staal whiffs on Carter, who slams home the rebound. DEVILS, 1-0. Guh.
9:55 — Two 3-on-1 breaks on Lundqvist in the first 10 minutes, and he saves them both. Staal’s gotta wipe Carter away from the crease on that play. Take a penalty if you have to. But Carter or the puck has to go in the boards.
8:39 — The Rangers look desperate now — they’re feverishly working forward.
8:01 — Callahan tries a wraparound, catches an edge and fans on the shot. Something’s gotta click with him.
6:58 — Anisimov goes in for tripping, and the Devils go in for the kill on the power play. GUT-check time right now fellas…
6:04 — “If they could get through this 1-0, that’d be all right,” my Dad remarks. “They have to survive this though–” and just then Zubrus makes a perfect centering feed to a wide-open Kovalchuk, who whips it past Lundqvist. DEVILS, 2-0.
6:04 — Jesus.
6:04 — (checking on the start time of the Yankee game)
6:04: — In the first 14 minutes of the last three games of this series, the Devils have outscored the Rangers 8-0. That’s the series, right there.
4:59 — It’d be easy to ream the Rangers for “not showing up”, but this team just looks exhausted. Two seven-game series, four overtime games (one 3OT), a grueling five games against a hated rival… they might not have anything left.
2:00 — Devils are 30 seconds into another power play, here we go again, circles like goddamn vultures, Clarkson doesn’t GET IT OUT OF THE ZONE…
0:00 — Somehow, some way, the Rangers limp into intermission down 2-0. Just like 1994, a 2-0 New Jersey lead. I like our chances (smiling like Kenneth in 30 Rock so I’ll believe that).
20:00 — Crowd is absolutely frenetic to start the period.
19:13 — Rangers playing super-aggressive, as expected. Both defensemen up in the zone on the forecheck, and it leads to a good look for Adam Henrique at the other end, squeezed by Lundqvist. That’s gonna happen a lot in this period…
18:37 — First lucky break for the Rangers — dubious interference penalty on Ponikarovsky with an acting assist from Callahan. Biggest power play of the series and they go with four forwards to start.
18:01 — Two straight misses from close range by Gaborik. Damn.
16:42 — Richards misses wide from short left, and the power play is over. God, the Blueshirts need a goal.
15:22 — A huge shift from the Rangers third line — Dubinsky juuust misses on a redirect. It’s becoming clear that beating Brodeur will not be easy tonight.
12:55 — Brodeur swats aside a wrister from Kreider and Del Zotto gets called for high-sticking at the other end. As good as the New York defense has been, there’s a noticeable drop-off from McDonagh and Girardi to Del Zotto and Staal.
12: 55 — My bad, Del Zotto. Bernier completely milked that call. Del Zotto never touched him. Good to know my opinion of the Devils wasn’t unwarranted.
10:13 — THEY SCORE!!! WHAT A PLAY BY MCDONAGH. He kept the puck in the zone, took it “around behind” Marty and flipped it to Fedotenko for the goal. DEVILS 2-1. It’s a game now!
6:19 — Girardi wrister goes off Callahan’s leg, off the post and IN! TIE GAME, 2-2. Finally finally FINALLY Callahan gets one of those deflections to go.
5:47 — Now the play is flying on both sides, but the Rangers look a half-step faster than before. The danger as always is the Devils’ ability to turn nothing into an on-man rush.
4:41 — Kreider holds the puck on a 3-on-2 a shade too long before passing to a cutting Boyle, who gets the puck poked away. Tortorella is furious at young Kreider for not pulling the trigger there.
1:57 — Devils have hardened and begun moving the action back into the Rangers end. A Girardi turnover is redeemed by Girardi himself, who knocks aside Parise’s stick as he goes in for an uncontested rebound on Lundqvist.
1:10 — The Devils play the FOX NFL Sunday music during a stoppage of play. A little slap in the face to TV provider NBC, no?
0:00 — The wild period comes to a close. 2-2. Buckle up folks.
20:00 — They play “Welcome to the Jungle” before the period. Bring it on.
18:56 — “This is hockey karma,” LeBrun said of Bernier’s FIFA-esque flop, which came right before the Rangers’ first goal. It did smack of Cristiano Ronaldo.
17:20– Kreider has only played six and a half minutes all game. He should double that in the next 10 minutes.
14:00 — Rangers responding to a Devils surge with one of their own — Brodeur just strained to save a Callahan wrister. The pace of play is nearing Ludicrous Speed at this point.
12:01 — Pace is favoring the Devils. Hank barely blocks a Zubrus shot with his pads.
11:57 — First TV TO of the period. This is why people should watch playoff hockey — the play is super-fast, super-physical, super-pressurized. The saves/zone clears/power plays — everything is more important. You can feel it on TV — I can only imagine what it’s actually like at the Rock.
10:12 — Carter blocks Staal into the net and gets booked for interference. First power play of the period to New York…
8:50 — Zel Dotto’s screamer hits a stick and sits down for Richards, but Brodeur smothers the low shot. Again. He’s played a great game.
8:03 — No goal on the power play. On the other hand, Henrique takes a puck to the balls to stop a Boyle shot.
7:10 — Anisimov gets in with a contested backhand near the crease but Brodeur sticks it away. He’s coming out of the crease more and more, matching Lundqvist’s aggressiveness.
4:54 — “The cardiac wards are going to be full,” gushes Doc, who clearly has a defibrillator close by.
4:03 — The Rangers are controlling play, but Brodeur simply will not let them score. Anisimov handcuffs Brodeur with a mid-range shot but he smothers it into his body. Say what you will about Marty, but he’s got 33 saves on 35 shots. He’s having a special night.
3:46 — Gotta figure the Rangers want to end this before OT. They’ve looked exhausted since midway through the first period, and 20 playoff games in 44 days is taking its toll.
1:47 — Centering pass just sticked away from Gaborik by Brodeur.
0:00 — TIED 2-2. We’re going to overrrtime. Would you really have it any other way? Though I did steal Doc’s defibrillator, just in case.
20:00 — Remember, this game is only to force a Game 7. I briefly blacked out and forget, because the last 15 minutes felt like a Game 7 to me. A well-played period by both teams in front of a raucous crowd, and both goalies in a zone. But can the weary Rangers sustain that energy in OT?
19:20 — This will not be a long OT. You heard it here first–
18:57 — Yep. The last rebound of the season stays in front of Lundqvist for six, seven, eight seconds before Henrique finally somehow pushes the puck into the net. FINAL: DEVILS 3, RANGERS 2.
18:57 — Damn.
18:57 — I was literally mid-keystroke when Henrique pushed it in past Richards, who had gotten behind Hank as the last line of defense.
POSTGAME: The teams go through the postgame line, and the last two players to shake hands are Brodeur and Lundqvist. A fantastic effort by both, and Lundqvist’s three goals allowed were not his fault.
Ugh. Enough masochism. I’ll be back Monday to wrap up the Rangers’ season.