The New Jersey Devils will try to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals tonight, when they host the New York Rangers in a pivotal Game 4 at the Prudential Center.
The top-seeded Rangers hold a 2-1 edge in this series after taking Games 1 and 3 by identical 3-0 scores. New Jersey recorded its one victory on the road in Game 2, beating New York in 3-2 fashion.
Henrik Lundqvist posted his second shutout of this series and third of this year's playoffs thanks to 36 saves in Saturday's triumph in New Jersey. Lundqvist, who is a finalist for both the Vezina and Hart Trophies this season, has a 1.57 goals-against average and .942 save percentage to go with his three shutouts in the 2012 postseason.
Ryan Callahan had a goal and an assist while Dan Girardi and Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers, who are in the conference finals for the first time since 1997 and are aiming for their first Stanley Cup Finals berth since winning their last championship in 1994.
"He is always there to make the saves for us," Girardi said of Lundqvist. "We knew coming into the third that if we could have a big period we could steal a game on the road and that's all thanks to him (Lundqvist)."
Girardi leads all defenseman in points in the playoffs with 11 and all three of his goals have been game-winners.
Kreider, who joined New York's playoff run after helping Boston College win an NCAA championship last month, has scored a goal in three straight games and has five tallies this postseason. Kreider has set a new NHL record for most playoff goals (five) and points (seven) by a player before skating in a regular season game.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur gave up two goals on 21 shots Saturday's loss. New Jersey went 0-for-5 on the power play in the game and have scored only once on 12 opportunities with the man advantage in this series.
"We didn't play that bad today, we did some good things," said New Jersey center Travis Zajac. "We just have to get Game 4 because we know it's going to be a long series. No one in this locker room thought it was going to be an easy series."
New Jersey is in the conference finals for the first time since 2003, when they also won their last Stanley Cup title.
Lundqvist, who has six shutouts over his playoff career, made 11 saves in the first period, 15 in the second and 10 in the final stanza.
"They had some good chances, but I thought the guys did a really good job of keeping most of the shots to the outside," said Lundqvist.
New Jersey fell to 4-2 on home ice this postseason, while the Rangers improved their road record to 4-3. New York will host Game 5 of this series on Wednesday.
The Rangers will not have forward Brandon Prust for tonight's contest, as he was suspended one game for elbowing New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the head on Saturday. Volchenkov was shaken up on the play but finished the game and did not suffer an injury.
As Atlantic Division combatants, the Devils and Rangers met six times during the regular season and each team won three of those tilts.
The Blueshirts have dominated the postseason history against the Devils, winning four of the five all-time playoff series between the clubs. New Jersey's only triumph came in the form of a sweep in the 2006 conference quarterfinals, but the Rangers avenged that loss by eliminating the Devils in five games in the opening round of the 2008 postseason.