The Devils feel they got away with one Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. They'd rather not tempt fate Friday at Prudential Center when they host the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"We don't want to go back to Madison Square Garden [for a Game 7]," Patrik Elias said Thursday. "They play a little bit different hockey there. They feed off the crowd and the excitement there. We've got to play better than we did [in Game 5]."
New Jersey won Game 5 on Wednesday 5-3 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, but the Devils can't shake the feeling that they stole a victory away from the Rangers, who controlled play and were able to be aggressive with puck possession for the middle 45-50 minutes.
The problem for the Rangers is New Jersey had a three-goal outburst in the first 10 minutes of the game, a result of a rebound, a deflection and a heavy wrister that most times would have been stopped by Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist. With the score tied 3-3 late in the third period, the aggressive Rangers had a defensive breakdown that led to Ryan Carter's winning goal with 4:24 remaining.
"I don't think there is one answer to that," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think it's a combination of things. When you have a 3-0 lead -- especially that early in the game -- you don't have that desperation that you have in a one-goal game and you change the way you're going to play. On the other side, the other team, and we've been there before, you loosen the strings. Your defensemen are up the ice, playing a little bit reckless, and a lot of times that puts the other team on their heels. The good news is I like the way we responded in the third period."
How do the Devils avoid having to respond that way again in the third period?
"Just play the same way that we know we can play," Elias said. "Be aggressive and dictate the tempo of the game. Try to out-work them, obviously."
Oh, and one more thing…
"Don't get too ahead of ourselves," Elias said. "Keep plugging away, doing the simple stuff and sticking with the game plan, and not worry about what is going to happen at the end of the night."
NEW YORK -- It wasn't quite worthy of being called a guarantee a la Mark Messier following Game 5 against New Jersey in 1994, but Rangers defenseman Marc Staal in his own quiet way did make an emphatic statement following the 5-3 loss in Game 5 Wednesday night.
"We'll regroup and get back and get the next one," Staal said in the somber home dressing room at Madison Square Garden.
Staal was then asked if the Rangers should have some hope going into Game 6, or if they should be crushed because they finally exerted their will and played the way they wanted to play against New Jersey and still could not come up with the victory.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Bryce Salvador used to be a sniper -- when he was 10 years old, that is.
"I know I lit it up," Salvador said.
It might be time to call him one again, because Salvador is lighting it up for the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Salvador got the Devils going in their 4-1 win against the Rangers on Monday with his third goal of the playoffs 8:10 into the first period. It was a low wrist shot from the left point that skipped on the ice just before going through Henrik Lundqvist's five-hole.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Wearing a neutral white shirt, showing no favoritism to the Rangers or the Devils, Eric LeGrand was just happy to have parked his motorized wheelchair in the area behind Section 17 at Prudential Center to catch some playoff hockey.
LeGrand, the former Rutgers University football player, became paralyzed on the field on Oct. 16, 2010. He is working hard in his recovery and in the meantime is, in his own words, "starting to become a die-hard hockey fan."
The New Jersey native has attended regular-season and playoff games at Madison Square Garden, but Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals was his first at Prudential Center.
"I am a Jersey guy, so I have to pull for the Devils a little bit," LeGrand told NHL.com as the Devils and Rangers went through pre-game warmups behind him. "But, you know, I just want to see a good game out here."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer had one word to describe the gamesmanship comments made by Rangers coach John Tortorella on Sunday.
"Comical," DeBoer said, without elaborating any further.
In defense of DeBoer saying Brandon Prust was "headhunting, plain and simple" when he hit Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the head with an elbow -- a play that earned Prust a disciplinary hearing Sunday morning with the NHL's Department of Player Safety -- Tortorella went off on a rant about how the Devils stay down on the ice to try to draw calls from the officials.
Tortorella specifically pointed out what he viewed as Dainius Zubrus elbowing Anton Stralman and Zach Parise "launching himself" at Michael Del Zotto. He also talked about the Devils using an illegal pick as a set play on the power play to stop the Rangers defensemen from blocking shots.
"There's some gamesmanship right there, huh?" Tortorella said.
The Devils don't know or understand what Tortorella is talking about, especially his remarks about staying down on the ice to draw penalties.
"I don't pay attention to that and I don't know of anyone in here that has done that, unless they're referring to Volchenkov, when he got elbowed in the head," Parise said. "I mean, I don't think anyone in here has done that. Maybe he saw something differently, but I don't think we've done that at all."
Zubrus couldn't even remember a hit on Stralman.
"I don't know what (Tortorella's) thought process is, what's he's thinking," Zubrus said. "The hit on Volchy got quite a bit of attention. Maybe they want to turn the attention away from that."
Asked if he heard from the League about an elbow on Stralman, Zubrus said no.
"I didn't know about any of this until you guys (the media) told me," he added.
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils don't want to heap too much praise on Henrik Lundqvist, but as a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and a fan of the position, Martin Brodeur certainly admires what the Rangers goalie is doing.
"Oh yeah, he's impressive," Brodeur said after practice Sunday. "I think it's a combination of the way that the players are playing in front of him, him making the big saves, controlling his game. What can you say? He's been good. We expected that. He's not surprising anybody. I know he's not surprising me. I know he's that good. We just have to find a way.
"We found a way against (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere in '03. We'll find a way against him."
Brodeur is, of course, referring to the Devils finding a way to get the best of Giguere in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy, but the Devils won the Stanley Cup with a 3-0 win in Game 7 at the Meadowlands.
Lundqvist would be considered a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite if he gets past the Devils. He made 36 saves for the 3-0 win in Game 3 and afterward Devils coach Peter DeBoer gave him credit for being the difference.
"Let's face it, he's playing really well. He's played well all season, all playoffs," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "I think it's important for us to not overanalyze and keep shooting, not pass up opportunities. Just keep shooting. We're getting the chances and they will go in; we just can't allow ourselves to pass up opportunities. Again, it just comes down to us taking advantage of our plays."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Petr Sykora has played in every game this season for the Devils after not playing in the NHL at all last season. It's a run of 97 straight games played that Sykora says he's quite proud of.
It's also a streak that will likely come to an end Monday.
Sykora is expected to be a healthy scratch in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers. Jacob Josefson is healthy again after fracturing his wrist on April 3 and in all likelihood will take Sykora's place in the lineup as the Devils try to even the series at Prudential Center.
"It's kind of fresh to me right now," Sykora said after staying on the ice for an extra-long workout after practice Sunday. "I haven't really had time to think about it. Just come in (Monday), stay in shape and just wait until I get a chance again."
Sykora has no points in the last four games and just two goals and two assists in 15 playoff games. He had a goal and an assist to help the Devils win Game 4 against Philadelphia, but has been silent since with only six shots on goal.
"Those are some of the tough decisions you have to make in the playoffs," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer, who also noted the lineup is not finalized yet.
That said, it certainly seems likely that Sykora will not play in Game 4. He was asked how he thinks he has played in the first three games against the Rangers, but Sykora said it's not a fair question for him to answer.
"It's hard to judge yourself the way you play, because you always think you're playing good," Sykora said. "Other people should judge how you play because they see you from the top and they see how you play."
DeBoer and his coaching staff must not have liked what they've seen from Sykora of late.
"I didn't miss a game, but that doesn't mean anything right now," Sykora said.
NEWARK, N.J. -- After getting shut out in Game 3, the Devils changed up their top three lines at practice Sunday complete with a new addition to the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday.
The Rangers lead the series 2-1 after winning 3-0 on Sunday. The Devils had 36 shots on goal, but couldn't solve Henrik Lundqvist.
"It's been fairly common practice for us to move people around when we haven't had success scoring goals," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's a little different situation. I thought we generated a lot of quality chances (in Game 3). The easy thing would be to stick with it, hope you come out next game do the same thing and score. But, we've decided to shuffle some things around and I think we'll get some results from that."
Jacob Josefson, who hasn't played since fracturing his left wrist against the Islanders on April 3, said he will play Monday. Petr Sykora is expected to come out of the lineup to make room for Josefson, who will likely center the Devils third line between Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson.
"He's been an effective guy for us and we missed him while he was out," DeBoer said of Josefson.
However, Elias will likely move to the left wing and Kovalchuk, although it appeared he was playing on the left side in practice Sunday, expects to stay on the right wing, where he has played for virtually the entire season.
DeBoer admitted moving Elias to the wing could take some of the pressure off of him. He has zero points in the last five games and just five points in 15 playoff games.
"It takes some of the responsibility off him to work low in our end and to create offense at the other end," DeBoer said. "Hopefully that translates to some offense."
The top line now has Zajac in between Parise and Zubrus. That has been a line for the Devils in the past, before DeBoer even got to New Jersey.
"Two seasons ago we played with Zubie a little bit, me and Zach, but I don't think we have to read into it too much," Zajac said. "I don't think at this time it matters who you are playing with. We have been playing well and if we do the right things we are going to be successful, get our chances."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer had no interest in analyzing Game 3 by the plays that made the difference in the Rangers' 3-0 win Saturday.
After giving Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist full credit for being the difference in the Rangers grabbing a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, DeBoer was asked if the couple of shifts prior to Dan Girardi's power-play goal 3:19 into the third period hurt the Devils.
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Rangers have a change in their lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Steve Eminger will replace Stu Bickel and play on the blue line for the first time in the playoffs. He will be paired with Michael Del Zotto.
Eminger played 4:25 of ice time as a fourth-line forward in Game 1 against Washington on April 28. The last time he played a game on defense was March 15 against Pittsburgh.
Bickel played only 4:13 in Game 2 and was on the ice for David Clarkson's game-winning goal in the third period. He has played in every game in the playoffs, but has received over seven minutes of ice time on only three occasions (Game 3 vs. Ottawa, Games 4 and 5 against Washington). He is a minus-2 with four penalty minutes.
I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.
— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic