Posted on April 12, 2008 12:18 AM | Permalink
The Rangers got everything they came across the Hudson River for – including a reminder that the Devils will not go quietly in the teams' increasingly intense Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Goals by Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery 23 seconds apart early in the third period had broken open a scoreless game in stunning fashion. And the Rangers checked away the next 14 minutes without a sweat. But the final 1:23 was wild – including the John Madden goal that halved the lead.
In the end, though, the Rangers hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Devils Friday night in the Prudential Center that completed a New York sweep of the series-opening pair in Newark.
"We were better than we were a couple of nights ago, there’s no question about that," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "And I still believe there’s room to improve and our guys will suggest the same thing. As this series continues to evolve, we will too. But certainly, this was the type of effort we were looking for."
The Rangers weren't going for the argument that the Devils had somehow made a stand by rallying late and nearly tying it with goaltender Martin Brodeur pulled for an extra attacker.
"Maybe they put it in their favor and say: 'OK, we got a really good finish,'"Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "But it wasn’t enough. It’s about winning. And 2-1 is a great result for us and we feel really good about our game now."
The Devils weren't feeling good about anything afterward. Not their continued inability to solve Lundqvist – they have managed just 11 goals in 10 games against him this season. Not the continued inability of their power play to score against the Rangers – it is 2-for-36 against the Rangers this season.
And certainly not the work of the four-man officiating crew. It whistled Jamie Langenbrunner for interference against Shanahan off a faceoff with 56 seconds left, ignored a Blair Betts hook of Paul Martin a few seconds later and somehow whistled an icing against the Devils when they were shorthanded with 35 seconds left. And when referee Dave Jackson earlier ruled that a Madden put-back never crossed the goal line, an inconclusive video review couldn't overrule him.