Martin Brodeur made 27 saves, got an assist and took a sucker punch from old teammate Mike Rupp to survive the 3rd period in a 4-1 win tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils have evened the series to 2-2 and will return to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 Wednesday night.
Captain Zach Parise had two goals (including an empty netter) and an assist. Defenseman Bryce Salvador and center Travis Zajac scored just four minutes apart from each other to contribute to the win and to kick things off in the first period of the game. The Devils getting the first couple of goals set the tone for the game and the Rangers didn’t have the intensity or momentum to keep up with them. The Devils have once again controlled the play of the game and kept a lot of the it in the Rangers end. They bounced back from the 3-0 shutout loss in Game 3 to keep pace with the Rangers.
The Rangers on the other hand, took several uncharacteristic penalties in the 3rd period but that was only part of their downfall. Although they recovered and killed 1/5 penalties, it took away any chance they had of mounting a comeback. Ruslan Fedotanko ended Brodeur’s shutout bid 13:33 in the third period and was the only goal scorer for the Rangers, but it was too little too late. Lundqvist ended the night with 26 saves.
Head coach John Tortorella gave a pretty stable post-game press conference noting that if the play wasn’t called a penalty on Mike Rupp, Rupp wouldn’t have reacted and sucker punched Brodeur. But by that point it still didn’t help the Rangers in getting back into the game. They were still allowing the Devils to steamroll them and throw everything they had at Lundqvist.
Devils fans in Prudential Center were far from quiet and you heard everything from “Rangers Suck” to “D-E-V-I-L-S” chants at the Rock. You could tell the game was a sell out and the atmosphere was there. Rally towels were given away to fans entering the game and it almost looked like a sea of white when they were raised.
Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador now has 9 points in 16 playoff games, which is great contribution considering the defenseman only had 9 points in 82 regular season games.
Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto was benched after a blatant giveaway to forward David Clarkson that led to a partial 2-on-1. Del Zotto would eventually return to the game in the third period. The Devils finally provided a full 60 minute effort and their fourth line of Ponikarovsky-Josefson-Clarkson contributed big to the effort sparking the team.
The Devils didn’t allow a shot on goal until 9:39 remained in the first period. It was like the entire team was on a mission and they completed that mission by avoiding going down in the series 3-1 and face elimination Wednesday night in the Garden. They evened the series 2-2 and Game 5 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, 8 pm on NBC Sports (or CBC).
Here are your three stars of the game.
* Zach Parise (Devils – LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1
** Martin Brodeur (Devils – G): Saves: 27, Save Pct.: .964
*** Bryce Salvador (Devils – D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1