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Devils Fail to Finish Off Rangers

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:37 PM

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The New Jersey Devils suffered a humiliating 5-2 road loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon. The Devils had a chance to eliminate their hated rivals with a victory but like most of the 2010-11 season, they blew it.

Early on in the contest it looked as though the Devils were eager to pull the playoff rug out from underneath New York. They quickly jumped ahead 1-0 on Nick Palmieri’s 9th goal of the season. The goal was originally credited to Ilya Kovalchuk but was later awarded to Palmieri when replays showed it had deflected off his stick.

New York answered just over a minute later when Rangers captain Chris Drury knocked a rebound past Brodeur. Drury made a surprise return to the line-up after he had missed most of the season with an injury.

But, Kovalchuk put the Devils back ahead 2-1 in the final minute of the first period when he beat goaltender Henrik Lundquist for his 31st goal of the year. Up to that point it looked as though New Jersey was primed to knock off the home teams and silence the boisterous MSG crowd.

Unfortunately, that’s the closest New Jersey would come to finishing off the Rangers playoff hopes.

The second period became a microcosm of the entire year for this edition of the Devils. It was sloppy, uninspired and embarrassing.

Any momentum New Jersey had from Kovalchuks’ late goal in the first was quickly erased in the second. The Devils went for a routine line change but didn’t successfully get the puck into the Rangers’ end from the neutral zone. Four players went to the bench for a change which resulted in a 4-on-1 rush for New York. Wojtek Wolski capitalized on the horrendous mistake just 1:52 in and the game was tied.

It appeared as though as soon as the Rangers tied the game the Devils players took their foot off the pedal leaving their fans disappointed again.

“On the change we got caught and that affected the team,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said.

The Rangers exploded for two more goals including the first of Ryan McDonaghs’ career. Vinny Prospal added another in the third and the Rangers kept there playoffs aspirations alive, for now. They still have to wait with baited breath for the outcome of the Carolina Hurricanes game before they can relax. If the Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in their final game New York will be eliminated.

For those not familiar with the “Hudson River” rivalry, named so because the two teams are separated by the mucky waters of the Hudson, this was perhaps the worst loss of the season for New Jersey fans.

During the Devils decade plus run of success it was the Rangers that remained a constant thorn in New Jersey’s side. To this day the cries of, “Mattau, Mattau, Mattau!” still haunt the New Jersey faithful.

In fact the Rangers were responsible for bouncing the Devils from the playoffs in 1994, 1997 and 2008. A win today would have gone a long way towards exercising some of the demons of a nightmarish season for New Jersey and their fans.

Now it’s up to the Carolina Hurricanes to do what the Devils couldn’t do, win at least one game that mattered.

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