Published May 25, 2012
The New Jersey Devils let a 2-0 first-period lead slip, but came through in overtime to advance to the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday.
Adam Henrique stuffed the puck past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist after a mad scramble in front of the net just one minute into sudden-death overtime to give the Devils a 4-2 triumph in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The victory put the Devils into the NHL championship series against Western Conference champion Los Angeles Kings with Game One on Wednesday in New Jersey.
It looked like it would be easy sailing for New Jersey after first-period goals by Ryan Carter and Ilya Kovalchuk produced a 2-0 lead that had the sold-out, red-clad crowd at the Prudential Center rocking with delight.
Carter slipped in a rebound of Stephen Gionta's shot off a feed from Steve Bernier on an odd-man rush halfway through the opening period.
The Carter-Gionta connection on New Jersey's fourth line also produced the game-winning score in Wednesday's Game Five win for the Devils at Madison Square Garden.
New Jersey doubled their advantage four minutes later with a power play goal on a one-timer by Kovalchuk from a crisp feed by Dainius Zubrus.
The Rangers, however, roared back in the second period with goals from Ruslan Fedotenko and Ryan Callahan to equalize 2-2 and after a scoreless third period the game went to overtime.
New Jersey swarmed the net in a frantic attack on Lundqvist and center Henrique delivered the game-winner 63 seconds into sudden-death.
"We caught them on a line change there, and we got a little room and were able to jam one in," Devils coach Peter DeBoer told reporters.
New York coach John Tortorella said he was proud of how his young team battled back.
"We got kicked a little bit early, but got our swagger back and I thought we were coming," the Rangers coach said. "But we didn't score the big goal and they did."
Forty-year-old Devils netminder Martin Brodeur stopped 33 of 35 shots to earn a crack at winning his fourth Stanley Cup ring.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)