NEWARK, New Jersey – New Jersey’s Adam Henrique scored from a wild scramble in front of the net a minute into overtime to give the Devils a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers Friday, completing a series victory (4-2) and a place in the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals.
The Devils will be playing in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in nine years, and will face the Los Angeles Kings in a series that will start Wednesday here.
It’s a remarkable comeback for a proud team, with three Stanley Cup titles, that missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1996.
Henrique’s series winner came after Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped Ilya Kovalchuk twice and Alexei Ponikarovsky. The last shot lay in the crease and Henrique tapped it home.
Ryan Carter and Kovalchuk also scored for the Devils, who blew a 2-0 first period lead.
Ruslan Fedotenko and Ryan Callahan tallied for top-seeded New York, which had a good flurry just before New Jersey scored.
After scoring the winner, Henrique, who is nominated for the Calder Trophy — given to the NHL’s top rookie — skated away from the crease and jumped against the end boards in the corner as his teammates jumped off the bench and mobbed him.
The six Rangers on the ice stayed down in disbelief and frustration. This was very much like Game 5, which the Devils won 5-3. New York carried the play after the first period and had a 35-29 edge in shots.
But when it came time for a game-deciding play to be made, it was a Devil who made it.
Henrique, who also scored the game winner in Game 7 of the Devils’ opening-round series against Florida, overcame injury to score this one. He seemed to take a stick from Brian Boyle in the groin area late in the third and had to leave the ice. He felt no pain after the game winner.
All the Rangers could do was bow their heads and then line up for the traditional handshake after losing to their cross-rival rivals in a series that was close.
Ageless Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, 40, kept the hosts alive in the third. He stopped a power-play shot by Brad Richards, made a save on Artem Anisimov between the circles and used his stick to deflect a pass from the boards by Carl Hagelin in the final minute just before it got to Marian Gaborik on the edge of the crease.
Lundqvist’s best stop in the third was on Dainius Zubrus on a shot from behind the circles. — AP