Start praying Ranger fans.
The New York Rangers are one game from being sent home for the summer. In a crucial Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, the New Jersey Devils bested the home team to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The series heads back to Newark on Friday night for what could be the final 60 minutes of hockey the Rangers will play this season.
When the puck dropped on Wednesday night, the electricity from the New York crowd could have powered Broadway. But within five minutes, New Jersey flipped the switch off.
With two remarkably quick and strangely easy scores, the crowd at the Garden sunk into silence. Fans could not be described as upset as much as completely dumbfounded.
This couldn’t be happening.
Then another goal for New Jersey sent Ranger-nation into a deeper circle of hell.
The team showed a sign of life before the period ended, in the form of a goal from Brandon Prust, fresh off his game suspension.
The second period looked like an entirely different hockey game. The Rangers came out and earned the crowd’s respect with a goal from Ryan Callahan about 30 seconds in. The period would not see another score, but the tide had certainly turned. The Rangers had the momentum heading into the locker room for the second break.
17 seconds into the final period, Marian Gaborik awoke from his scoring coma and made it a 3-3 game. As odd as it may sound, the goal may have come too soon, as the momentum built up during intermission was all exhaled with the score.
New York continued to outplay the Devils throughout the period, keeping Martin Brodeur plenty busy with shots on goal. The effort soon proved futile when Ryan Carter netted his third goal of the postseason to give New Jersey a 4-3 lead that they would never surrender.
The Devils landed a goal on an empty net to complete the 5-3 final.
The Rangers now find themselves in a corner. Again.
New York will once again have to play all seven games of a series if they want to advance. They must also win back-to-back games, which they have been unable to do in these playoffs with the exception of games 6 and 7 against Ottawa.
The good news: They have done it before.
The bad news: This Devil’s team is significantly more talented than anyone they have faced thus far.
The worst news: Even if the Rangers pull of a miraculous series win, the white-hot Los Angeles Kings (12-2 in the postseason) will be rested and waiting for them.
With the scenario at hand, the Blueshirts and their fans must listen to the advice and do what John Tortorella told them to do before Game 5…
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