For one game, at least, in the Eastern Conference finals, the New Jersey Devils found a way to beat Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers.
After losing out in the Rangers' block party in Game One, the Devils found a solution in Game Two. They forechecked, moved the puck, didn't give the New York defense time to set up, shot quickly and got traffic in front of the Rangers' goaltender.
It wasn't anything novel. It was Hockey 101.
Now it's the Rangers' turn to respond as the series shifts to New Jersey for Game Three at the Prudential Center today (1 p.m., Ch. 2).
"We know the Rangers are going to push," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We know they're going to come out and play a great hockey game tomorrow. "
Both teams returned to the ice on Friday and continued to tweak their games.
"I think both teams," DeBoer said, "are going to take their game to another level."
At the least, the Devils need to prevent the Rangers from blocking shots again. "They do a great job of blocking shots, but the reality of it is that we have to get two or three guys in front and then somehow get the puck through," said Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador, who had assists on New Jersey's final two goals. Devils center Travis Zajac, who was reunited with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk as his wings in Game Two, said New Jersey was able to apply more pressure the second time around.
"The focus will continue to be to get as many pucks to the net as possible," he said. "
Losing the battles didn't sit well with Rangers coach John Tortorella. New York posted the best record in the conference by winning the little wars all season, and wouldn't have survived two seven-game series versus Ottawa and Washington to get to this point, had it not showed that kind of grit.
"I think that's a big part of how we play," Tortorella said Friday. "Big, small or medium build, we play hard along the boards. Obviously, that was void the other night."