The New Jersey Devils dominated the New York Rangers in Game 4 to tie up the Hudson River series at 2-2.
The number 4 seems to be a lucky one for the Devils. They are the first team to score 4 goals against the Rangers in this year’s playoffs. Martin Brodeur set the new NHL record for most assists recorded by a goaltender in the playoffs with 4.
Captain Zach Parise and defenseman Bryce Salvador stood out with strong performances tonight, with the captain leading by example with 2 goals, 1 assist. Salvador, held without a goal in 82 regular season games, started off the scoring for the Devils with a shot from the left point that went through the five-hole of Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist at 8:10 of the 1st period. It was his third goal of the playoffs.
Peter DeBoer, head coach of the Devils, shook up the lines after a startling Game 3 3-0 loss to the Rangers last Saturday. The new first line of Parise-Zajac-Zubrus proved effective with Travis Zajac scoring his 6th goal of the playoffs at 11:59 of the 1st with assists from Parise and Dainius Zubrus. Jacob Josefson, replacing Petr Sykora in the lineup and returning from a broken wrist, recorded no points but was a strong presence and recorded an ice time of 12:58.
The Devils maintained strong net presence and puck possession throughout the 1st and killed off a 2-minute minor tripping penalty going into the 2nd. The Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk and the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan got 2 minute minors for slashing and roughing respectively, but the resulting 4-on-4 went scoreless.
The Rangers lost discipline in the 3rd period, resulting in a Devils’ power play goal. Parise followed a Kovalchuk shot on net from the face-off and snapped the rebound through the five-hole of Lundqvist for his second of the night.
An altercation began with Mike Rupp shoving Devils goalie Martin Brodeur at 6:18 of the 3rd after a whistle and ended with head coaches DeBoer and the Rangers’ John Tortorella shouting at each other over the head of the hapless Pierre McGuire, who has been in this situation before.
Unfortunately, McGuire had muted his microphone before the disagreement began. Both DeBoer and Tortorella declined to comment on the incident in their post-game pressers.
The Devils were unable to capitalize on the following 4 minute power play, which became a 5-on-3 with Carl Hagelin of the Rangers taking a slashing penalty at 8:58. The Devils overpassed the puck in front of Lundqvist, and the score remained 3-0 Devils.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored his first of the playoffs to put the Rangers on the board at 14:55 of the 3rd with assists from Brad Richards (8) and Michael Del Zotto (8). Shortly after, the Devils’ captain Zach Parise scored an empty netter from Salvador and Brodeur to result in a final score of 4-1, Devils.
While the Devils recorded a goal on the power play, work remains to be done on special teams. They were unable to take advantage of a 4 minute opportunity, of which 1:20 was a 5-on-3 advantage. Still, strong puck possession and winning battles along the boards allowed the Devils to control the pace throughout much of the game.
Mystery remains as to what DeBoer and Tortorella cordially chatted about. What are your guesses?
The series moves back to Madison Square Garden with Game 5 on Wednesday.