Nobody would expect New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur to play two sub-par games in a row. And for all but a 23-second stretch of the third period on Friday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, that was true.
However, in those 23 seconds Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery were able to put the puck past Brodeur en route to the New York Rangers’ 2-1 victory of the Devils, giving the Blueshirts a 2-0 advantage heading into Madison Square Garden for Game Three.
The game was what one would expect from a Rangers-Devils contest. Netminders Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist kept the puck in front of the goal line while hard hits were jarring the boards loose (literally) and the penalty box was well occupied, during the second period at least.
In the final two minutes of the game, the Devils pulled Brodeur for an extra attacker in hopes of mounting a late comeback.
Their strategy looked to be paying off as John Madden slapped one passed a heavily screened Lundqvist with 1:23 left to play.
However, not 30 seconds later did the Devils’ hopes begin to diminish as Jamie Langenbrunner was called for hooking after an offensive zone faceoff.
Langenbrunner caught Brendan Shanahan with the blade of his stick while Shanahan was attempting to skate towards the puck, which had been controlled by the Devils off of the faceoff. Replays showed that Langenbrunner’s stick work did little to impede Shanahan’s progress, however all Langenbrunner could do was enjoy the rest of the game from the sin bin.
To add insult to injury, with the Devils controlling the puck in their defensive zone in the final minute, Rangers’ center Blair Betts appeared to commit a holding penalty which was not called. John Madden was furious with the referees over the non-call, as was New Jersey coach Brent Sutter who ended up tossing a stick on the ice in protest.
Additionally, in the final seconds, defenseman Mark Staal took down a Devil behind the Rangers’ goal, which also went unnoticed.
Nevertheless, the Rangers managed to outplay the Devils once again.
For the Rangers, Sean Avery has been hot, scoring a goal in each of the first two games, while defenseman Dan Girardi once again played the unsung hero, tallying an assist, three blocked shots, and three hits en route to a plus-1 on the evening.
Meanwhile, for the Devils, Dainius Zubrus has been most ineffective, recording a minus-3 over the first two games, and taking eight penalty minutes in Game Two. He has not scored a point and has only recorded one shot on goal.
Game Three takes place Sunday at 7:00 pm at Madison Square Garden.