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Devils, Ducks facing elimination tonight

by Adam Schwartz

Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers can close out their series against Zach Parise and the New Jersey Devils if they can come away with a win in Game 5 tonight at the Prudential Center in Newark.
The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin to wind down Friday night with three Game 5s.

At 7:30 p.m. the New York Rangers will try to eliminate the New Jersey Devils and either the Detroit Red Wings or Nashville Predators will grab a lead in their series at Joe Louis Arena. At 10:30 p.m., the Anaheim Ducks will try to stave off elimination when they host the Dallas Stars.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

* The Rangers, who yielded just two goals to the Devils in the first two games of the series, have allowed seven goals in the last two games. The Rangers, who scored the fourth fewest goals in the Eastern Conference during the regular season with 213, have scored 14 goals in four playoff games.

* Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin, who was second among Atlantic Division defensemen with 218 hits during the regular season, has two assists and a plus-4 rating in the playoffs. Tyutin, who has a minus-8 rating in 27 career games against the Devils, has a plus-8 rating in 12 combined regular season and playoff games against New Jersey this season.

* The Devils, who have nine players that have won the Stanley Cup, have lost all three games in which the Rangers have outshot them in this series. New Jersey, which has not been past the second round of the playoffs since 2003, has not won a game in regulation in April.

* Devils right wing Jamie Langenbrunner, who is a fan of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, has two goals in his last 15 playoff games. Langenbrunner, who was named captain this season, has a minus-3 rating in the series against the Rangers.

* The Red Wings, who have 23 Stanley Cup championship rings in their current lineup, have won three playoff rounds in the last three seasons. Detroit, which allowed the fewest goals in the League during the regular season with 184, has given up eight in a pair of losses to the Predators in Nashville.

* Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski, who was second among Red Wings defensemen with 55 points during the regular season, has two goals and nine assists for 11 points in his last 15 playoff games. Rafalski, who signed as a free agent with Detroit in the offseason, had a plus-27 rating during the regular season – his highest since the 2000-2001 season.

* Red Wings center Kris Draper, a depth player for Detroit, has two goals and one assist for three points this series after not recording a point in five games against the Predators during the regular season. Draper, who has played 176 playoff games, has not scored more than two goals in a playoff season since 1996. 

* Stars center Mike Ribeiro, who totaled a career-high 83 points this season, is averaging just 17:58 of ice time per game. Ribeiro, who lists his favorite movie as The Shawshank Redemption, has four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 12 combined regular season and playoff games against the Ducks, including one goal and six assists for seven points in this series.

* Dallas right wing Jere Lehtinen, who missed 33 games with a sports hernia, had one goal and three assists in the first two games of the series, but has no points in the last two. Lehtinen, who will play in playoff game No. 99 Friday night, has never had more than five assists in one playoff season.

* Stars goalie Marty Turco, who has never been past the second round of the playoffs, has four shutouts in his last 11 playoff games and has allowed more than two goals just twice during that span. Turco, who won just two of his final nine decisions in the regular season, has not faced more than 28 shots in any game during this series.

* Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs last season, has one assist and a minus-2 rating while playing no less than 21 minutes in any game during this series. Niedermayer, who returned to the Ducks lineup in December after contemplating retirement, has 44 penalty minutes in his last 41 playoff games.

* Ducks center Samuel Pahlsson, who is counted on by coach Randy Carlyle to shut down the opposition’s most threatening offensive players, had a plus-10 rating in Anaheim’s 21-game run to the Stanley Cup last season has an even plus-minus rating in four games this round.

* Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who yielded 35 goals in 18 playoff games last season in the playoffs, has given up 14 goals in this series. Giguere, who had a 1.96 goals-against average in the playoffs prior to this season, has a 3.50 GAA in this series.
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