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Rangers or Caps are up next for Devils

by Brian Compton

For the first time in nearly a decade, the New Jersey Devils are headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Devils finished off an impressive five-game series victory against Philadelphia on Tuesday night when they beat the Flyers 3-1 at Wells Fargo Center. New Jersey last reached Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs back in 2003, when the Devils won their last Stanley Cup.

Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 12
SOG: 35 | +/-: -3
"It seems forever for a lot of guys but, for me it is nine years," said goalie Martin Brodeur, who turned 40 on Sunday and has been in the net for all three of the franchise's Stanley Cups. "It's tough to do that. I think we're fortunate to have made it there so far and we're looking forward to it.

"It's nice, I think we deserved it. We played really hard this series, we survived a few scares in the first series. So it's nice that we finished this off today and looking forward to a little break here and see what we're going to face in the conference finals."

New Jersey now can do nothing but sit and wait to see which team it will face next.  With the Caps 2-1 win in Game 6 on Wednesday night, the Devils must now wait until Saturday's Game 7 to see who they will face.

The Devils experienced more success against the Capitals than the Rangers during the regular season. New Jersey went 3-1-0 (two of those wins came via the shootout), while taking three of six meetings from the Rangers.

For now, the Devils can let the bumps and bruises heal while they wait to see which team they'll play.

"It's rewarding for us," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We set ourselves up pretty well. We played some good hockey against Philadelphia. Now we can get some rest and watch and see who we're playing against."

Remarkably, the Devils still have a chance at having home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals. New Jersey finished sixth in the conference, one spot ahead of No. 7 Washington. The Rangers finished atop the East standings.

There was no talk afterwards of which team the Devils would prefer to play in the next round. Clearly, they are focused on getting a few days of rest before facing either the Rangers or Capitals.

"It feels good. We want to keep pushing and keep this thing going," forward David Clarkson said. "Those guys are the veterans in this room they have been there. They know what to do. They have been leading us all playoffs and we just have to keep it going."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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