NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils outplayed the New York Rangers in every aspect of the game in Game 3 of their fiercely intense Eastern Conference final series Saturday afternoon. The Devils owned more of the open ice, had more shots on goal and dominated the physical play.
They did everything except score more goals than their cross-river rivals.
Dan Girardi scored a power play goal at 3:18 of the third period to break a scoreless tie and rookie Chris Kreider continued his incredible playoff run with a goal two minutes later, giving the Rangers a 3-0 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 is scheduled for Monday night, also at the Prudential Center, with game time slated for 8 p.m. ET.
Much like Game 1, Rangers goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist was masterful in net, making 36 saves, several of which were of the acrobatic variety, including five miraculous stops during a two-minute span of the third period, proving once again that he is indeed the best net minder in the NHL.
After two scoreless periods, the Rangers finally broke through, soon after Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador went to the penalty box for hooking. Just seconds after the penalty, Brad Richards won a faceoff and the puck went directly to Girardi, who fired the puck past Devils legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
They didn't stop there. Keeping the pressure on the Devils and Brodeur, Ryan McDonagh fired a shot that Kreider, the former Boston College standout, got a stick on to deflect past Brodeur for a 2-0 lead at 5:16 of the third period. It was Kreider's fifth goal of the playoffs. Before the playoffs, he was still playing in college at the NCAA Frozen Four, leading BC to the NCAA championship.
The Devils could not figure out Lundqvist, who stonewalled them for his second shutout in the three games, including a slap shot from Ilya Kovalchuk with 11 minutes left that Lundqvist caught with his glove, causing Kovalchuk to simply shake his head in disgust.
The Devils had another golden opportunity with four minutes left on the power play, but defenseman Peter Harrold's shot from near the blue line clanked off the right post.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan added an empty net goal with 2:13 left to cap the scoring.
Game 3 certainly resembled the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, with defensive intensity and outstanding goalkeeping from both teams.
In the first period, the Devils controlled action, had 11 shots on goal compared to just four for the Rangers, who went an astounding 15 minutes without getting a single shot on Brodeur.
Lundqvist made a stellar save with the blocking pad on Zach Parise with 14 seconds left, keeping the game scoreless.
The action picked up considerably in the second period, with the Devils once again controlling the play.
Ilya Kovalchuk had a breakaway opportunity in the first minute of the second period, but was stopped when Lundqvist came out of the crease to cut off the angle, then made a diving arm save to thwart the chance.
About a minute later, the Devils had three consecutive shots on Lundqvist, only to get turned aside. Dainius Zubrus had a slap shot from the point that Lundqvist stopped with his leg pad and Adam Henrique followed that shot with a wrist shot on the rebound that Lundqvist smothered.
The Rangers had two good chances to score, both coming from captain Ryan Callahan, who forced Brodeur to make a diving save across the goal mouth, then stopped another attempt in front with 10:57 remaining with an arm save.
The Rangers successfully killed off two power play opportunities in the second period, as Mike Rupp went off for tripping and John Mitchell was whistled for interference.
After two periods, the Devils led in shots by a commanding 26-14 advantage, but there was still no score.
In the opening minute of the third period, Brad Richards had a great chance for the Rangers, but his high shot bounced off the crossbar. Marian Gaborik got the rebound, but Brodeur made a pad save.
NOTES: Although Devils coach Peter DeBoer said that C Jacob Josefson and D Henrik Tallinder were close to returning to action after injury, neither dressed Saturday. Rookie D Adam Larsson was a healthy scratch, as were Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton and Tim Sestito. ... The Rangers scratched D Stu Bickel, as well as the injured Brandon Dubinsky. ... DeBoer is pleased with the way rookie Henrique has developed. "You forget how young he is," DeBoer said. "In terms of his hockey sense and responsibility, he gets the job done. He's able to put the puck in the right place so much that you don't even think of his age anymore. He's comfortable now." ... Brodeur still marveled at the kick save he made against Marian Gaborik in Game 2, a flying kick save that someone dubbed "the Scorpion save." Brodeur said, "I didn't know I could still stretch that far at my age. It's definitely one of the best of my career."
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