The New Jersey Devils essentially had their backs against the wall in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals as they trailed the New York Rangers 1-0 in the series. A loss would have sent them back home in dire straits, but the Devils answered the bell and came through with a 3-2 win to even things up.
A loss in Game 3 won't cripple either team, but it promises to be a big one as the momentum will swing into the winner's favor. The Devils frustrated the Rangers in Game 2 with a strong forecheck, rough-and-tumble play and a great net-front presence. They'll certainly look to do the same on Saturday afternoon.
The Rangers have gotten the job done with postseason with great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and stifling defense that has resulted in tons of blocked shots. New Jersey was able to work around that on Wednesday, however, and it will be incumbent upon John Tortorella's Rangers squad to regain its Game 1 form.
Here is your complete guide to Saturday's Game 3 swing contest between the Rangers and Devils as they battle to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
Who will win Game 3?
Where: Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
When: Saturday, May 19 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: ESPN NY 98.7 FM (New York) and WFAN 660 AM (New Jersey)
Live Stream: CBC.ca
Betting Line: TBD
Rangers Key Injuries (via TSN)
Out: F Chad Kolarik (knee), F Mats Zuccarello (wrist), F Brandon Dubinsky (foot), D Michael Sauer (concussion)
Probable: F Derek Stepan (toe)
Devils Key Injuries (via TSN)
Out: F Jacob Josefson (wrist), D Henrik Tallinder (leg)
Probable: F Patrik Elias (nose)
What They're Saying
There is no doubt that the New Jersey Devils were a different team in their Game 2 win over the New York Rangers than they were in a losing effort in Game 1 and a big reason for that was their ability to get traffic in front of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. All three of their goals were the result of screens and that fact wasn't lost on Lundqvist, according to Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.
"I kind of have to go for the high shot", he said, "so I think the next game we just have to correct a few things in front of our own net."
"Overall, we just have to be better," Lundqvist said. "They wanted it a little bit more."
Most Important Player to Watch: Marian Gaborik
With the way the Rangers have played during the postseason, grittier forwards like Ryan Callahan, Chris Krieder and Brian Boyle have been the shining stars, but there is no doubt that their biggest offensive threat is Marian Gaborik. With 10 points in 16 playoff games, Gaborik is second on the Rangers in scoring, but his presence has been unnoticeable far too often and that is something that simply cannot happen to a player with so much talent.
Gaborik was benched for much of the third period of Game 2 by Tortorella after a poor effort allowed Devils forward Ryan Carter to redirect a shot past Lundqvist late in the second period to tie the game. With Tortorella's confidence waning, Gaborik has to show up in a big way on Saturday. There is no question that Tortorella's system stifles Gaborik's creativity to some degree, but if he can't figure out a way to be a factor in the series, the blue shirts are in trouble.
Key Matchup: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Devils' Screens
It has been the case every game this season and it has essentially been true ever since he debuted following the NHL lockout, but there is no question that goalie Henrik Lundqvist will have to be the best player on the ice if the Rangers are going to advance. Lundqvist has been absolutely spectacular thus far in the postseason with a 1.66 goals against average, but the Devils were able to frustrate him and beat him for three goals in Game 2.
Three goals may not seem like a big deal, but when you're talking about Lundqvist, that is almost like scoring six times on an average goaltender. The Devils circumvented New York's shot-blocking prowess by getting traffic of their own in front of Lundqvist. Both Ryan Carter and David Clarkson had huge tip-in goals for the Devils in Game 2, and Lundqvist is going to have to either get help from his defense in Game 3, or deal with the screens himself.
Devils 2, Rangers 1 in OT
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