The New York Rangers' road show in New Jersey finished with a flourish. Similar success on their side of the Hudson River will send them sailing into the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery scored 23 seconds apart to bust open a scoreless game in the third period, and the Rangers extended their dominance over the Devils with a 2-1 victory Friday night.
New York, which has won nine of 10 from New Jersey in the regular season and playoffs, will carry a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series into Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
"In this new NHL, you want to say there is home-ice advantage but there is a lot of teams that can win on the road," Jagr said. "We won twice but we can't think it's over. We are halfway done.
"We have to play good at home and go from there. There is no guarantee of anything."
But Rangers over Devils has been the closest to a sure thing as can be.
New York won the first seven meetings of the regular season from New Jersey, before dropping the final one on the road last Sunday when home-ice advantage in this first-round playoff series was on the line.
The Rangers scored three times in the third period of the opener on Wednesday, turning another tie game into a going-away win. In Game 2, Henrik Lundqvist closed in on his third shutout of the season over the Devils, before John Madden cut New Jersey's deficit in half with 1:23 remaining.
The Devils pressed for the tying goal as fans from both teams filled the loyalty-split Prudential Center with cheers and jeers. Lundqvist, who stopped 26 shots, stood tall as he has throughout the season versus the Devils. He protected this lead, too, and sent the Rangers home with a commanding lead.
"It wasn't enough," Lundqvist said of the Devils' late surge. "As long as they don't tie the game, I don't really care. You know, 2-1 doesn't help."
In other Eastern Conference playoff games Friday night, the Washington Capitals rallied for three goals in the third period and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 on Alex Ovechkin's winner in his first postseason appearance, and the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-0 series lead over the Ottawa Senators with a 5-3 win.
Minnesota evened its series with the Colorado Avalanche by winning 3-2 in overtime of Game 2.
New York has held a 2-0 edge in a seven-game series eight times since expansion and advanced in all but one. Of those, three ended in sweeps _ including last year's first round when the Rangers wiped out the Atlanta Thrashers in four straight.
"We understand that it's a seven-game series," forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "You don't win the series in two games, but we're excited and we're happy about the way we played."
Wins at home on Sunday and in Game 4 on Wednesday would give the Rangers their first sweep over the Devils. New Jersey lost its first three postseason series against New York before sweeping the Rangers out of the first round in 2006.
The Devils have won only one series they trailed 2-0, rallying to eliminate Boston after dropping the first two games at home in the 1994 second round. That set up the epic series in which Mark Messier guaranteed a win and the Rangers won Games 6 and 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup finals and earn their first title in 54 years.
"It's a tough game to lose, both games in our building," said Martin Brodeur, who made 28 saves. "They are definitely taking control of the series. We feel that we are not far away. A bounce here, a bounce there and it could have gone our way.
"We have to keep our heads up and try to do to them what they did to us in their building."
New Jersey has scored only 11 goals against Lundqvist in 10 games this season. If the Devils can't pick up the scoring pace in a hurry, this series will be over in a flash.
The Devils went 0-for-5 on the power play, including a 4-minute advantage in the second period when Rangers defenseman Christian Backman knocked out Zach Parise's teeth with a high-stick to the mouth of New Jersey's regular-season leading scorer.
"We're throwing everything at them," Madden said. "We're getting our chances. We're disciplined, for the most part. We're doing a lot of good things. We just can't score."
Capitals 5, Flyers 4
At Washington, Alex Ovechkin stole the puck and netted the tiebreaking goal with 4 1/2 minutes remaining, leading the Capitals over Philadelphia Flyers in the series opener.
The Flyers led 4-2 heading into the final period, thanks to two goals apiece by Danny Briere and Vaclav Prospal. But Ovechkin, the NHL's leading goal and points scorer in the regular season, helped set up the first of two goals by defenseman Mike Green that lifted Washington into a tie.
Ovechkin then put the finishing touch on the Capitals' first playoff game since 2003. Game 2 is Sunday in Washington.
Wild 3, Avalanche 2, OT
At St. Paul, Minn., Keith Carney scored 14 seconds into overtime to lift Minnesota past Colorado.
Mikko Koivu gave the Wild a 2-1 lead with 1:49 left in regulation, but teammate Kim Johnsson was called for hooking 40 seconds later, leading to Milan Hejduk's tying goal with 43.8 seconds remaining.
Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves, and Pavol Demitra also scored for the Wild. Peter Forsberg scored Colorado's first goal. Game 3 is Monday night in Denver.
Penguins 5, Senators 3
Ryan Malone scored the Penguins' third power-play goal with only 1:02 remaining and Pittsburgh recovered from squandering a three-goal lead against Ottawa to take a 2-0 series lead.
Petr Sykora scored two of the three goals set up by Evgeni Malkin.
Malone added an empty-net goal with 6.5 seconds remaining _ the Penguins' 54th shot, easily the most in regulation in their playoff history.
Sergei Gonchar also scored and Sidney Crosby, held scoreless as Pittsburgh won 4-0 in Game 1, had four assists. Shean Donovan, Cory Stillman and Cody Bass scored for Ottawa. The series will shift to Ottawa for Game 3 on Monday.
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