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Devils outlast Rangers, 5-3, take 3-2 series lead
Just 5:26 after Elias‘ goal, Zajac made it 3-0 with his seventh of the playoffs. Bryce Salvador wiped out Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the New Jersey end and started the play going the other way. Zajac got a clean shot from just inside the right circle that sailed past Lundqvist and beat him inside the left post at 9:49.
The tide began to turn the Rangers’ way the rest of the period as they allowed only one shot the rest of the period and began cutting into the deficit.
Prust, making his return following a one-game suspension for an elbow he delivered on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3, showed a scoring touch when he converted on a breakaway with 4:19 left in the first.
The Rangers outshot the Devils 9-6 in the lopsided first period, but continued their sudden defensive dominance well into the second. Then they cut the Devils' lead down to a goal just 32 seconds into the second.
Brandon Dubinsky, back from a foot injury, fired a shot from the left point that was deflected in front and caromed toward the left corner. Artem Anisimov flung the puck back toward the crease and it struck the left skate of the driving Callahan and got past Brodeur. The goal stood up after a brief video review.
New Jersey didn’t record its first shot of the period, and its second since its third goal, until Henrique put a puck in on Lundqvist at 6:23.
Lundqvist, who had stopped 94 percent of the shots he faced in the playoffs before Wednesday, made just 12 saves. The Rangers allowed five goals one game after allowing four for the first time in this postseason.
To make the finals now, New York will have to win a third consecutive seven-game series. The Rangers have already played 19 postseason games.
“We have to have a short memory,” McDonagh said. “We’ve been in this position before in this playoffs and we found a way to get it done. We don’t want to look ahead. We have to win two games, but we just have to focus on winning one.”
Notes: Dubinsky had been sidelined since he was injured in the Rangers' victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the first round. He sat out all seven games of the second round against Washington and the first four against New Jersey. John Mitchell was scratched to make room in the lineup. Prust’s return forced D Steve Eminger to sit out after he played the two previous games. … Kovalchuk has 10 assists in the postseason. … Prust scored his first career NHL playoff goal in his 23rd game. … The game was played on the 18-year anniversary of Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. The Devils won that game, 4-1, took a 3-2 series lead, and prompted the Messier guarantee the following day.
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