The top-seeded New York Rangers will try to rebound from a poor performance when they host the New Jersey Devils tonight in Game 5 of the deadlocked Eastern Conference finals.
The Atlantic Division rivals have split the first four games of this best- of-seven series, with New York taking Games 1 and 3 by identical 3-0 scores and the sixth-seeded Devils claiming the even-numbered contests.
The clubs are both 1-1 on home ice in this series, but the Rangers are 6-4 overall at Madison Square Garden in the 2012 postseason. The Devils are 5-4 away from their home arena this spring.
New Jersey, which posted a 3-2 win in Game 2, evened this series with a dominating 4-1 victory in Monday's Game 4 at the Prudential Center in Newark. The Devils received 28 saves and an assist from goaltender Martin Brodeur en route to the lopsided victory.
After getting shut out by New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Saturday, Brodeur carried a shutout late into the third period of Game 3. Zach Parise posted two goals and an assist in the victory, while Bryce Salvador and Travis Zajac also scored.
Parise ended a five-game goalless drought and now has six goals and six assists in this postseason.
"I think our guys responded with a big effort from the drop of the puck," said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. "We executed and stuck to our game plan, especially in the second period when they were coming after us hard."
Brodeur's assist came on an empty-netter by Parise with 1:29 left in the game. It was Brodeur's fourth assist of this postseason, setting a new NHL mark for most helpers by a goaltender in one playoff year.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored the lone goal while Lundqvist gave up three goals on 29 shots for the Rangers.
"We have to hold on to some pucks," said New York head coach John Tortorella. "We would give it back to them and the momentum would go right back to them. It was a struggle for a number of our guys tonight. We have to have a short memory of this one."
Monday's game marked the first time in this postseason that the Rangers failed to hold their opponent under four goals. New York held the opposition to three goals or less in 17 consecutive playoff games, tying an NHL record established by Detroit in 2008.
The Rangers are 6-0 this postseason when tallying three or more goals, and are 0-6 when allowing three or more goals.
One lasting image of Game 4 was the shouting match that erupted between the two head coaches. After a series during the third period in which New York's Michael Rupp was given a 10-minute misconduct and two roughing minors, DeBoer and Tortorella were yelling at each other across the boards.
"I think emotion takes over," DeBoer said on Tuesday. "Again I don't know the word 'defend,' but I took offense at what happened on the ice, and that was my outlet, right or wrong."
No suspensions or fines came out of Game 4, but Rangers forward Brandon Prust is eligible to return tonight after facing disciplinary action from the league. Prust was suspended for one game for an elbow to the head of New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3.
The Rangers could also get forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Mats Zuccarello back tonight. Dubinsky hasn't played since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the opening round against Ottawa, while Zuccarello has been sidelined since late March with a broken wrist.
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.
Game 6 of this series is scheduled for Friday night in New Jersey.