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Lundqvist Stands On Head, Rangers Take 2-1 Lead Over Devils

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NEWARK, NJ - MAY 19: Ryan McDonagh #27 and Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers defend against Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

NEWARK, NJ – MAY 19: Ryan McDonagh #27 and Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers defend against Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ In his latest playoff gem, Henrik Lundqvist
had little time to do more than stop every breakaway or 2-on-1
attempt New Jersey shot his way. When he took a moment to breathe,
Lundqvist had all the confidence his New York Rangers would bail
him out with a goal or two.

“You know sooner or later it’s going to turn,” he said. “It’s
going to turn in our favor.”

Unlike those dozens of Devils’ shots, his feeling was right on
the mark.

Lundqvist had 36 saves, and Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider and Ryan
Callahan scored third-period goals to lead the New York Rangers to
a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Eastern
Conference Finals on Saturday.

Girardi and Kreider scored goals only 1 minute, 57 seconds apart
early in the third to seize the momentum in a packed building with
fans of both teams at a fever pitch, and give New York a 2-1 series
lead. Indeed it was a quick span the Devils may long regret,
especially after they dominated long stretches of Game 3.

“We played a real good hockey game,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer
said. “We lost. We gotta find a way to score a goal.”

The Rangers did, and they did so in a stretch that would compare
to some of coach John Tortorella’s short and not-so-sweet press
conferences. But Tortorella abandoned his normally terse responses
to praise his goalie after the win.

“He a great competitor,” Tortorella said, “as far as his
preparation and as far as what he does for this hockey club.”

Lundqvist was busy from the opening faceoff en route to his
second shutout of the series and third in the postseason. Callahan
iced it with an empty-netter late in third.

Game 4 is Monday in New Jersey.

Not even playing on home ice, where they had won four straight,
was enough to help New Jersey. The Rangers have won every Game 1,
lost each Game 2, and rebounded to win Game 3 in every round this
postseason. Each preceding series, of course, saw them win the
all-important last one: Game 7.

Kreider, a rookie called up during Round 1 vs. Ottawa, has
scored in every game of this series.

“I’d trade that for three wins,” Kreider said. “I’m worried
about the next one.”

Lundqvist was fantastic as he showed again why he led the
Rangers to an Eastern Conference-high 109 points. He stoned Adam
Henrique on a nice backhander late in the second period to keep it
scoreless entering the third, setting the stage for New York’s late
magic.

He also toyed with Ilya Kovalchuk all game and stopped him on a
nice breakaway in the second. Kovalchuk, who scored in Game 2,
couldn’t get untracked and neither could the rest of the Devils.

Especially not with the way Lundqvist shined in net.

“I was a little lucky today, a couple times where I made the
first move I still ended up making the save,” he said. “That’s
not going to happen all the time. So you need some luck sometimes.
I always say you earn your luck by working hard.

“But today was a good day.”

The Rangers opened the third ready to go against Martin Brodeur
and found a way to give Lundqvist a needed cushion.

With New Jersey’s Bryce Salvador in the penalty box, Girardi
pushed a slow wrist shot past Brodeur’s glove side, off a faceoff
win by Brad Richards. Brodeur could have easily stopped the
point-blank shot, especially with no traffic in front of the net.

“I thought the biggest play there was the faceoff win,”
Tortorella said of Richards’ play. “We struggled a little bit
there on our power play.”

Ryan McDonagh then wristed a shot along the ice toward Brodeur
that got through to the crease, eventually being deflected by
Kreider and around a prone Brodeur. New Jersey’s Marek Zidlicky was
out of position at the faceoff circle, when Kreider sneaked in
behind him and poked it in.

“I was just trying to get to the net,” he said. “It was a
great shot and found my stick.”

The Devils kept up the pressure the rest of the way, but got
nowhere with an ineffective 0 for 5 power play. And as they skated
off dejectedly toward their locker room, they could only look back
and wonder how they came up empty with so many shots on Lundqvist.

“It’s not like we didn’t create anything,” New Jersey’s Patrik
Elias said. “They didn’t block everything, they didn’t outbattle
us. It was a battle from both teams _ hard.”

New Jersey spent most of the game sticking it to the Rangers all
over the ice. The Devils dominated and outshot the Rangers, 26-14,
through the first two periods.

In the second period, New York’s Brandon Prust threw a hard
right elbow into the back of Anton Volchenkov’s head that knocked
the defenseman down in a heap. No penalty was called and the crowd
howled in protest. DeBoer was furious at the non-call and was
yelling on the bench as he looked up at the replay overhead.
Volchenkov eventually got to his feet and later returned to the
ice.
“Headhunting,” DeBoer said, stealing Tortorella’s tone for an
answer or two. “Plain and simple.”

Lundqvist was at his best in the third, snaring Kovalchuk’s
one-timer to turn away any attempt at a late Devils’ rally.

“He’s been the backbone of our team for a long time now,”
Girardi said. “He’s making huge saves.”

The Devils pulled Brodeur with 2:33 left and that backfired only
10 seconds later when Callahan knocked in an easy look that bounced
off the back boards. The three-goal cushion allowed the Rangers
fans in attendance to boast a bit as their rivals struggled.
“Let’s go Ran-gers” chants were prevalent, as were derogatory
“Mar-ty” chants toward the Devils’ veteran netminder.

Brodeur shrugged off the chants.

“It’s momentum off the way we play that dictates how our crowd
is going to be in our building, because there are a lot of Rangers
fans coming over,” Brodeur said. “They are the ones, I guess,
with the money and they are sitting right beside us, too.

“It’s not new for us.”

Losing at home, though, is. The Devils, after all, had won four
straight postseason games at The Rock.

That streak is history. Thanks to the man the Rangers call
“Hank.”

NOTES: The Rangers scratched D Stu Bickel, who had played all 16
postseason games, and replaced him with D Steve Eminger. Eminger
played his second game. … This is the only game in the East
Finals with two days off leading up to it. From Game 4 on, the
series will resume every other day. … Rock star and New Jersey
native Jon Bon Jovi was at the game and was shown on the Jumbotron
in the second period. … Elias took a stick to the face in the
first period and went to the locker room. He later returned.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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