NEW YORK — David Clarkson’s deflected goal 2:31 into the third period snapped a tie and lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers that evened the Eastern Conference Finals at one game apiece on Wednesday night.
Clarkson built off the momentum created by Ryan Carter’s goal late in the second period that tied the game, 2-2. Ilya Kovalchuk had given the Devils a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal in the first. Defenseman Bryce Salvador added two assists, and Martin Brodeur stopped 23 saves for the win.
“We had to keep going to the net, and I think we were doing some good things,” Clarkson said. “We’ve been playing some good hockey and we’ve got to continue to do it. That is a big win for us.”
Marc Staal and Chris Kreider scored in the second for the Rangers, who lost their third consecutive Game 2 after winning the series opener. Top-seeded New York, which had 24 saves by Henrik Lundqvist, hasn’t had a two-game lead at any point in these playoffs.
New Jersey got even at 2 when Salvador wound up for a shot at the blue line and fired a drive that Carter – with his back to the net – brilliantly deflected past Lundqvist with 1:51 left in the second. Marian Gaborik stood up straight in front of Salvador, but didn’t drop down as many of his teammates have to try to block the shot. For that, he was pinned to the bench by coach John Tortorella.
Gaborik returned to the ice with 8:40 remaining.
The Devils kept the pressure on at the start of the third and wiped out the good work New York displayed in the second. After spending much of the first penned in their own end, the Rangers rebounded to erase their early deficit and briefly take the lead thanks to their previously inept power play.
FRIENDLY WAGER: There’s more than a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals at stake between the Devils and Rangers.
The U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey are wagering pizza on the outcome.
If the Devils win, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand will have to buy a piece for Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg at the New Jersey pizza place of their choice. If the Rangers win, Menendez and Lautenberg will have to buy a pie at the New York pizza place chosen by Schumer and Gillibrand.