Martin Brodeur may have absorbed a literal jab from former teammate Mike Rupp on Monday night and may have also lost his chance for a 25th career playoff shutout in the waning minutes.
His assist and victory, though, surely made up for it.
Brodeur finished with 28 stops on the evening as the New Jersey Devils again knotted the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-1 victory over the cross-river rival New York Rangers in Game 4 at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Game 5 will be played Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The two teams have so far alternated wins through the first four games.
New Jersey built a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Bryce Salvador and Travis Zajac, before Zach Parise scored twice in the third period, including an empty-netter assisted by Brodeur, to keep the Devils' Stanley Cup hopes going.
Now if only the Devils' power play, which has a tendency at times to stand around and pass the puck too much, could just get going as well—but that's another story.
New Jersey outshot New York 30-29 and also had one more blocked shots (13-12) before a sell-out crowd of 17,625 at The Rock. The Rangers wound up with 43 penalty minutes, thanks to some general nastiness in the final 20 minutes of play, including a double-minor to Rupp and two separate minors to Carl Hagelin.
The Devils registered 23 penalty minutes on the night, while going 1-for-6 on the power play and stifling the Rangers' only man-advantage opportunity, according to NHL.com. Ruslan Fedotenko spoiled Brodeur's shutout bid with his first goal of the playoffs.
Even head coaches Pete DeBoer and John Tortorella got into the act, making their way down their respective benches to scream at one another at almost point-blank range after former Devils forward Rupp got the festivities going in the final period.
Neither coach would discuss the incident in his post-game press conference on the NBC Network, though.
"It's not about John and me. This is about the guys on the ice," said DeBoer, whose Devils are now 10-6 in the postseason this spring.
Now it's a best-of-three affair, with the fifth act due to begin on Broadway in less than 48 hours.