Rookie forward Adam Henrique scored an overtime goal to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 Game 6 victory Friday night and a berth into the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2003.
The Devils will host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday at the Prudential Center.
Devils fans were happy that their team won Game 6 at home and didn't allow the series to go back to New York for a Game 7, which is exactly what happened in the two teams' 1994 Eastern Conference Finals series, which the Rangers won. Ending the Rangers' season makes this playoff run for the Devils much sweeter for their fans.
Credit the Devils for not getting discouraged after allowing a 2-0 first period lead to slip away in the second period. They showed a lot of composure in this game.
Let's recap an exciting series-clinching win for New Jersey.
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog tweeted about Ryan Callahan after he tied the game in the second period:
Off of Callahan, which means he's two goals away from the ultimate 1994 homage.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 25, 2012
Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy shared a photo of CBC's Don Cherry wearing a really interesting flower suit during Coach's Corner on Hockey Night in Canada:
Don Cherry is wearing your grandma's flower bed - twitpic.com/9p84oj— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) May 25, 2012
Adam Proteau of The Hockey News talks about Ilya Kovalchuk of the Devils and Marian Gaborik of the Rangers:
People saw Kovalchuk & Gaborik as soft, playoff non-factors early in their career. Kovy is proving them wrong; Gaborik is proving them right— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) May 25, 2012
Tom Gulitti of the Fire and Ice Blog tweets about rookie Adam Henrique:
Adam Henrique might not win the Calder, but has a rookie ever scored two bigger goals than he has in this year's playoffs.?— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) May 25, 2012
Rookie Adam Henrique sends the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Watch Ilya Kovalchuk finish a great power-play goal by the Devils.
Ryan Callahan tied the game at 2-2 in the second period with a deflection off his leg.
Grades for Key Devils Players
Ilya Kovalchuk: B
Kovalchuk played really well in the first period and gave the Devils a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal (see video above).
Though his defense in the second period was poor, he ended the game with an even rating. Overall, Kovalchuk played well and was aggressive offensively, which is what Devils fans want to see. He will finally get the chance to play in a Stanley Cup Finals.
Martin Brodeur: B+
Brodeur looked great in the first period and was playing with a lot of confidence. In the second period he allowed two goals, which erased the Devils' early 2-0 advantage from the first period. He finished the game with 33 saves.
The veteran goaltender made some important saves with the game tied 2-2, and will now try to win his fourth Stanley Cup title.
Zach Parise: C
The Devils' captain wasn't able to make much of an impact offensively in Game 6. Parise had just one shot on goal and scored zero points.
New Jersey didn't need Parise on this night, as the rest of the team, especially Ryan Carter and Adam Henrique, stepped up.
Grades for Key Rangers Players
Henrik Lundqvist: B
The Rangers' goaltender allowed the Devils to continue their first period dominance in this series by giving up two early goals.
After that, Lundqvist regained his composure and was fantastic for the rest of the contest. He was forced to make a number of important saves in the second period, including a big one on Devils rookie forward Adam Henrique.
In the end, Henrique would get the better of Lundqvist with a series-winning goal in overtime. Lundqvist finished the game with 26 saves.
Marian Gaborik: D+
Gaborik once again wasn't able to find the back of the net and finished the game with zero points. The talented winger had just one point in the series.
The Rangers needed Gaborik to play like a top-line scorer in this series and he wasn't able to deliver. He was a major disappointment in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Deciding Factor: New Jersey's First Period
The Rangers really hurt themselves by allowing the Devils to take an early 2-0 lead, which forced the Blueshirts to play from behind again.
With the Game 6 defeat, New York lost its final seven games when allowing the first goal. Playing catch-up hockey is a tough way to play when your season is on the line.
Game MVP: Adam Henrique
Adam Henrique's game-winning goal was an awesome moment for the young rookie, and he played great the entire game. He gave everything he had on the ice and was rewarded for his hard work with a goal he will never forget.
Henrique also won the Devils' first-round series against the Florida Panthers with a double-overtime goal in Game 7.
The Los Angeles Kings will travel to the Prudential Center to take on the Devils in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC.