Tied at two games apiece, the Eastern Conference Finals between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers moved back across the Hudson River for Game 5. The Devils had scored a 4-1 victory in Game 4, and looked to ride that wave of momentum into Madison Square Garden, where they had already won once in the series.
Jumping out to a quick lead and then relying on timely goals late, New Jersey topped New York, 5-3, and now sit one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
Here’s a look back at the game.
Having a Devil of a Time Early: It might have been Game 5, but for New Jersey, it was as if the domination of Game 4 never ended, as the Devils tallied three goals in the first 9:49 of the game. Stephen Gionta started the scoring off a rebound less than three minutes in, and exactly 90 seconds later, Patrik Elias gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead with a goal that deflected off New York’s Artem Anisimov. Travis Zajac would add a third goal in the frame, and it looked like the rout was on.
The Rangers Respond: It started after the second goal, when Rangers coach John Tortorella called a timeout. New York then began to claw their way back, mustering a better offensive rush. The first dividends of the increased attack came late in the first period, when Brandon Prust, who was suspended for Game 4 after elbowing Anton Volchenkov, scored off the backhand on a breakaway.
Completing the Comeback: Just 32 seconds into the second period, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan put home a rebound to close the score to 3-2. The goal was reviewed for a possible kick by Callahan, but the call on the ice stood. New York dominated the second period of play, with New Jersey beginning to re-assert themselves offensively towards the end of the frame. The Rangers then notched the equalizer just 17 seconds into the third period, as Marian Gaborik tallied his first goal of the series.
Be-Deviling the Rangers: With the crowd and momentum on their side, a Rangers victory seemed inevitable, but the Devils have fought back before in these playoffs, including overtime wins in Games 6 and 7 of their first-round series with the Florida Panthers.
New Jersey shook off the Gaborik goal and put pressure on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. With less than five minutes to play and the puck trapped deep in the Rangers’ zone along the boards, Ilya Kovalchuk knocked Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto off the puck, and Gionta sent a pass in front of the net to Ryan Carter, who scored the game-winner. Zach Parise increased the winning margin, scoring an empty-net goal — his second in as many games — with 32 seconds to play.
What’s Next: Game 6 will be on Friday night at 8:00 P.M. Eastern at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. As mentioned earlier, with a win, the Devils will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Kings.
Should the Rangers win, Game 7 would be on Sunday night at 8:00 P.M. Eastern back at Madison Square Garden.