NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Eastern Conference Finals between the New Jersey Devils and rival New York Rangers are turning out to be exactly what everyone thought.
Hard hitting. Tight checking. Low scoring.
Indeed, as it's played under the microscope of the New York metropolitan area media, this has been hockey with an edge ... but not so edgy as to cross the line.
The two games at Madison Square Garden were similar. They were tied after two periods, and decided in the third. The Rangers won the first with three goals in the last period and the Devils took the second, 3-2, on Wednesday night on a great deflection by David Clarkson.
The best-of-7 series for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Finals now moves to the Prudential Center in New Jersey for games on Saturday afternoon and Monday night.
"I think it's everything that we were anticipating really from the hockey standpoint," Devils captain Zach Parise said Thursday. "We expected tight games. We expected not a lot of room out there from either team, and games down to the wire. I guess from everything else surrounding it, it's definitely more media coverage than we've ever seen.
"So that part is a little different than the attention that it's getting, that the series is getting. That's a little different. But I think that's what you kind of have to expect when you're still playing at this time of the year."
With two days off before Game 3, both teams elected to rest on Thursday.
"Yeah, I said before, I don't think you can get too much rest this time of year," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said in a conference call. "I think both teams are in the same boat. We start going every other day again next week through the end of the series. So I think the break comes at the right time. Everyone can regroup, and we can get ready for a home game."
Rangers coach John Tortorella was a little more talkative on Thursday after saying very little in the wake of Game 2. In that defeat, his team allowed a game-tying goal late in the second period and then lost on Clarkson's tally in the third.
When asked if there were any positives to carry into Game 3, he said there weren't many.
"I thought we played some minutes in the second period, found a way to score some power-play goals; but other than that, we didn't play enough minutes," said Tortorella, who refused to say much about his decision to bench leading scorer Marian Gaborik for almost 12 minutes in a span covering the end of the second period and the start of the third.
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