The timing was right for the New Jersey Devils.
Less than a minute away from defeat, the Devils got a game-tying goal from Claude Lemieux in regulation and a game-winner from Stephane Richer in the second overtime for a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers in the NHL playoffs Sunday night.
"We're usually very good holding leads in the third period, but we let this one get away," Rangers defenseman Kevin Lowe said.
The Rangers were leading, 3-2, when Lemieux scored with 42.7 seconds left in regulation. Richer scored the game-winner with 4:37 left in the second overtime as the Devils took the opener of the Eastern Conference finals.
Richer broke down the left side after a pass from Bobby Carpenter, skated past Rangers forward Adam Graves and flipped a shot past Mike Richter on the short side.
"I came off the bench and I was looking to take any defenseman wide," Richer said. "Carpenter just threw the puck in the air and all of a sudden, I saw Graves and took a chance to go one on one.
"I don't think Adam as a forward practices (defense) very much. So I took a chance to beat him one on one. Mike Richter went to make the save and I went top shelf."
Richer's goal ended two furious overtime periods in which both teams missed scoring opportunities. In the second overtime, Valeri Zelepukin missed an open net with Richter out of position.
"There were a lot of great plays, point-blank shots, a lot of good scoring chances," Graves said. "Both goaltenders came up big."
John MacLean and Bill Guerin scored New Jersey's other goals. Sergei Zubov, Sergei Nemchinov and Steve Larmer scored for New York.