By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers spotted the Devils a 3-0 lead Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden before roaring back to tie the game early in the final period. However New Jersey's Ryan Carter ruined the comeback by scoring late in the third period to lift the Devils to a 5-3 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, pushing the Rangers---who now trail the series 3-2---to the brink of playoff elimination.
After spending the entire night chasing the Devils, the Rangers finally caught up to the visitors when Marian Gaborik tied the game 3-3 just 17 seconds into the third period. Gaborik hustled down the ice to chase a puck and forced Martin Brodeur into a misplay along the goal line. Gaborik then collected the loose puck and fired towards the net where Brodeur was off-balance and the puck went off his pads and over the goal line as Derek Stepan applied pressure in the crease.
Brodeur then stood tall with big saves on Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin moments later before an alert Henrik Lundqvist bailed out teammate Brad Richards who inadvertently fired a shot on his own goalie.
However the Devils fourth line struck with 4:25 left to play when Carter went hard to the net and deflected a Stephen Gionta pass past Lundqvist to squash the Rangers comeback. Zach Parise added an empty net goal with 31.2 seconds to play.
After digging themselves a 3-0 hole less than ten minutes into the game, the Rangers scored a goal late in the first period and another early in the second to pull within one of New Jersey, bringing a stunned Garden crowd back to life in the process.
Brandon Prust put the Rangers on the scoreboard with 4:19 to play in the opening period, scoring his first career playoff goal. Ruslan Fedotenko---an absolute bull the entire game---threw a cross-ice pass to an open area on right wing where Prust lunged for the puck and in the process was able to roll it past Brodeur to make the score 3-1.
Then just 32 seconds into the second period Artem Anisimov whipped a pass towards the crease where the puck deflected off Callahan's skate and over the goal line to narrow the Rangers deficit to 3-2. Callahan's fifth goal of the playoffs was upheld by video review; and four minutes later the Rangers captain nearly had the equalizer.
With the Rangers on the power play Callahan chipped a rebound of a Richards shot past Brodeur, but the puck hit the inside of the far post and bounced back into play at the 4:05 mark of the middle stanza.
Though the Rangers dominated the second period---holding an 11-5 shots advantage---they still trailed 3-2 after 40 minutes of play as Brodeur was able to just hold the home team at bay.
New Jersey scored three times on their first five shots of the game, storming to a 3-0 lead in Game 5. Gionta slipepd a rebound past Lundqvist just 2:43 into the game, before an Adam Henrique shot deflected off a Rangers skate and then Patrick Elias' skate and into the cage at 4:13, giving the Devils a quick 2-0 lead.
Despite great Rangers pressure that followed Elias' goal, it was the Devils who scored again at 9:49 when Travis Zajac zipped a right-wing shot far side on Lundqvist to put the Rangers in stunning 3-0 hole, one that they incredibly would the find the will and a way to climb out of.
The Rangers were bouyed by the return of Brandon Dubinsky to the lineup. Dubinsky, who had not played in nearly a month since Game 7 of the first round series against Ottawa due to injury, skated alongside Anisimov and Callahan, and earned a secondary assist on Callahan's second=period goal.