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Ilya Kovalchuk knocked Michael Del Zotto off the puck in the right corner, and Gionta sent a pass in front to Carter _ who had just charged in front from the bench _ for a quick shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist.

“A great play by Kovy to separate their (defensemen) from the puck,” Carter said. “Gio scooped the puck up, took a look and made a fantastic pass to me. All I had to do was redirect it.”

New Jersey was outshot 28-17 and had only six shots in the third, but two went in. Now the Devils are on the verge of their first Cup finals appearance since they won their third title in 2003. Brodeur, the backbone of every New Jersey title, kept his focus throughout the third when he was loudly taunted with chants of “Mar-ty, Mar-ty.”

“It was a mistake,” Brodeur said of Gaborik’s goal. “I’m pretty happy that the boys bounced back and made this a win for us. It would have been tough and people would have blamed that mishandle.”

The Rangers were ultimately done in by another terrible start. For the 13th straight game, the team that scored first in New York’s contests has won. The Rangers had been on a pattern of win-one, lose-one, but now they are on the verge of elimination with their second two-game losing streak in a series this year. The only time the Rangers have won two straight in a playoff series is when they overcame a 3-2 hole in the first round vs. Ottawa. They have faced elimination three times already this postseason.

“We have to. There is no other way around it,” Lundqvist said of the Rangers’ comeback chances. “We have to bring all the good things we did and keep doing them in the next game. We played really well in the second and third period.”

They couldn’t say the same about the first.

“It’s different when you go down 3-0. You don’t have a whole lot to lose,” Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. “It was good nonetheless. Now it’s 3-2. Now we have to win two. That’s the bottom line.”

The Rangers burned their timeout early, and Devils coach Peter DeBoer spent his with 10:17 left. Parise implored his teammates to, “Come on boys.” and the messages from the coach and the captain did the trick.

But New Jersey surely never thought it would be in that kind of fight after storming in front early.

“It wasn’t pretty by any means, what we did tonight,” Parise said. “But we’re going home with a 3-2 lead.”

Not only didn’t the Rangers have the strong start they craved and insisted they needed, they were practically run out of their building less than 10 minutes in. The same problems that plagued New York in its 4-1 loss in Game 4, when the Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, cropped up again in front of the home fans that grew frustrated and angry early.

Gionta got the Devils going 2:43 in when he gathered a rebound of Mark Fayne’s shot right in front of Lundqvist, steadied himself without any pressure from the defense, and slipped in his third goal of the playoffs to start the barrage. Elias made it 2-0 just 1:30 later on New Jersey’s fourth shot.

After Kovalchuk fumbled the puck just inside the blue line, he dived to keep it from leaving the Rangers’ zone. The puck eventually came to Adam Henrique at the right point for a shot that was stopped by Lundqvist. Elias got it in front and scored his fourth.

Tortorella used his timeout then, but it made little difference. He appeared to be calm as he moved back and forth behind the bench while talking to his players. Whatever the message was didn’t sink in. The Devils shrugged off a few scoring chances by the Rangers, and padded their lead again.

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