NEW YORK -- Considering the bubbling cauldron of venom that is the rivalry between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, it's almost surprising that it took four games for it spill over onto the ice during the Eastern Conference Finals.
It started during Game 4 with Devils rookie Adam Henrique and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who had a combined one fight during the regular season, dropping the gloves. Later, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and Devils sniper Ilya Kovalchuk exchanged words and sticks after a whistle. It came to a full boil with the Devils leading 3-0 in the third period when the Rangers' Mike Rupp hit goaltender Martin Brodeur in the upper chest and jaw with a gloved punch.
With the best-of-seven series deadlocked at 2-2 and Game 5 set for Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), both teams agreed they need to leave the overwhelming emotions at the door when they take the ice in their biggest games of the season.
"I don't feel like it's anything I need to let go or the team needs to let go," Rupp said. "We're focused on a three-game series and we have two at home, so we're confident in that and we faced that the first two rounds. We're going to go about it the same way."