The New Jersey Devils did everything they could between the goaltenders on Saturday afternoon. But the New York Rangers had the best man between the pipes and it’s that reason alone that gave them a 3-0 win in Game 3 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals.
New Jersey played an excellent all-around offensive game, attacking Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist with 36 shots and the two stars of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise combining for nine. Lundqvist, facing high volume and off the sticks of the opponent’s best players, turned everything away. On the other side, Martin Brodeur faced only 22 shots and the Devil defense did a reasonably decent job keeping Marian Gaborik under control—three shots total for the New York star—but the Rangers struck with a burst midway through the third period to break a scoreless tie and then tacked on a third goal late in the game.
>When New York’s offense finally did break through it was center Brad Richards and forward Ryan Callahan, the two biggest supporting pieces to Gaborik that were at the heart of the action. Richards picked up an assist on the power play goal to defenseman Dan Girardi that made it 1-0. Callahan then got an assist minutes later, and then he scored the final goal.
But ultimately this game was about Lundqvist and him putting his team on his back and carrying them to win. It’s what great goalies do if they want to win a Stanley Cup and the Ranger netminder took a huge step toward that goal Saturday afternoon in New Jersey.
The action goes west today where the Los Angeles Kings are looking to wrap up the Western Conference title over Phoenix in Game 4. We noted in today’s NBA wrap-up that yesterday was a particularly brutal day for Los Angeles sports fans at The Staples Center, and a Kings win could wash out some of the bad taste. Phoenix, after being destroyed in the first two games, at least played competitive hockey in their Game 3 loss. They’ve got the goaltender to win this game, they just need to find some way to make the game ugly and neutralize Los Angeles’ superior offensive play.