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."
It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.
— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18