Maybe somebody was listening to John Tortorella on Tuesday when he jokingly said the only thing he can do to get his top forwards to score was “pray.”
Last night at the Garden, during the Devils’ 5-3 Game 5 win, the Rangers coach got one goal apiece from two of his best forwards — Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik. The closest example of divine intervention was Gaborik’s third-period prayer, which went in from a sharp angle, getting jumbled in the feet of Martin Brodeur to tie the game, 3-3, just 17 seconds in.
“It’s a tough one to give up,” said Devils coach Peter DeBoer, whose team takes a 3-2 lead into tomorrow’s Game 6 showdown at the Prudential Center.
HARD TO WATCH: Martin Brodeur looks away as Rangers celebrate Marian Gaborik’s game-tying goal during the third period of the Devils’ 5-3 victory in Game 5 last night at the Garden.
Gaborik recently has shown some spark in his game, yet the Rangers’ leading scorer in the regular season with 41 goals had still not found the net in the past five contests. That induced Tortorella to utter his now infamous comment, saying, “We’re going to keep on trying to play, pray, and hopefully something good happens to them.”
The good luck also rubbed off on Callahan, who managed to find a way to get a second-period score in off his skate — a play that was reviewed to see if he kicked it in. The goal eventually held up, giving the Rangers’ captain his first even-strength score with an opposing goalie in net since the first game of the playoffs.
“To our credit, we showed a lot of character,” Callahan said of his team coming back from a 3-0 deficit. “We’ve got to find a way to get that next one.”
Brandon Prust made his return to the Rangers’ lineup after serving his one-game suspension resulting from his elbow to the head of Anton Volchenkov in Game 3.
Prust showed a little bit of the good with the bad, scoring the first goal of the comeback, coming near the end of the first period. He also took two penalties in the same period, one for slashing and one for diving, the latter when he was pushed after the whistle by Peter Harrold and flopped to the ground.
Earlier in the series, Tortorella had accused the Devils of embellishing for the sake of gaining power plays, but this was the first such call of the five games.
Apparently, neither the Rangers nor Devils care that upon winning the series, they will play the Kings, who beat the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday night, winning their series in five games to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
“Good for them, I don’t really care,” said Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk. “Let’s talk about [our game]. We don’t want to think too much ahead.”
The Kings have won 10 straight road playoff games (spanning two seasons), the most in postseason history.
Rangers forward Brian Boyle, who was drafted by the Kings in the first round of 2003 and played his first two NHL seasons there, also had very little to add.
“That was a while ago,” Boyle said, “and I haven’t really thought about that at all.”
The Devils’ steamroller improved to 10-3 in their last 13 playoff games. They are 11-6 in the playoffs and 17-6 in their last 23 going back into the regular season. ... The Devils have not always prospered from a 3-2 series lead. They stand 11-5 from that edge, winning seven times in Game 6 and four times in Game 7. They lost Game 7s from a 3-2 series lead to the 2009 Hurricanes, 2001 Avalanche in the Stanley Cup final, the 1999 Penguins, those 1994 Rangers and the 1991 Penguins.
Marian Gaborik, the Devils, the Devils, Rangers, Martin Brodeur, Rangers, Ryan Callahan, John Tortorella, Tortorella, Tortorella, Devils, The Kings