When's the last time you heard Rangers, playoffs, and clinch in the same sentence? Well now you have, the New York Rangers are officially heading to the 2012 playoffs, with their 4-2 over the New Jersey Devils tonight!
Just like the rest of these Rangers, and Devils game it started off with quite the "fight". Before the puck was even dropped, John Tortorella was furious at Devils head coach Peter DoBoer for putting out his fighters to start off this game, against the Rangers top line. Tortorella quickly sent out Mike Rupp, Brandon Prust, and Stu Bickel (Yes, Stu Bickel at center).
As soon as the puck dropped, all three forwards dropped the gloves and squared off with one another. Stu Bickel was tangled up with Ryan Carter, Brandon Prust had Cam Janessen, and Mike Rupp was trading punches with Eric Boulton. The Bickel and Carter fight was probably the best out of all of them, as Carter left with blood pouring down his face.
Follow after the jump for more.
After all of the penalties were sorted, there was a total of 40 penalty minutes handed out in the first 3 seconds of the game. Bryce Salvador tacked on the extra ten minutes after he jumped in late in an attempt to rip Stu Bickel away from Ryan Carter. We finally got to play some hockey after that, and the Rangers jumped on the board very early.
The Rangers came in on a 4-on-2, and Brandon Dubinsky found himself all alone in the slot with the puck. Dubinsky fired it low, blocker side on Brodeur to give the Rangers the early lead, and a start that they really needed. Throughout the opening period, the Rangers came out like a team possessed, beating the Devils in every sort of battle the came up. After a simply dominating period, the Rangers were able to hold on to their 1-0 lead heading into the locker rooms.
Just :33 seconds into the second period, Dan Girardi put the Rangers up 2-0 with a wrist shot that somehow beat Brodeur high. The shot itself barely had anything on it, but somehow it fooled Brodeur who failed to make the same on the puck. The Devils came back with a quick goal, just five minutes later, from a strange angle.
Marc Staal was caught behind the net, and turned it over at the side of the net. Patrik Elias got off a quick shot that flew over the shoulder of the stick-less Henrik Lundqvist. The only person you can fault on this one is Marc Staal, and he made a bad play to come out front, and eventually lost the puck.
Just two minutes later, the Rangers were sent to the power play after Eric Boulton took a very ugly boarding call on Ruslan Fedotenko. Just thirty seconds later, Mats Zuccarello put the Rangers up 3-1 after he slammed home a rebound in front of Martin Brodeur. Ryan Callahan made a great read on the shot, and deflected the puck on net, where Zuccarello was sitting wide open to bang home the rebound.
Once again, the Devils were able to come right back and get within a goal as Petr Sykora sniped home a goal. This was the second goal that Henrik Lundqvist had let in on his short side tonight, and it cut the Rangers lead to 3-2. The Rangers had a crucial penalty kill at the end of the period as Brandon Dubinsky was called for boarding at 17:27. The Rangers were able to kill it off and came away with a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
In the third period, both teams would go back and forth for almost the entire period, until the Devils took a late penalty. Derek Stepan would come away with a power play goal on a beautiful deflection in front that secured with the win for the Rangers, and secured them a spot in the 2012 Playoffs!
Even after the game was over, Devils coach Pete DeBoer had some more words for John Tortorella in the post-game press conference. Here are two tweets that are courtesy of Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
"@PeterBotte DeBoer: "I guess in John's world u can come into our building & start your tough guys but we can't do the same here." cont..."— Pat Leonard (@NYDNRangers) March 20, 2012
"@PeterBotte DeBoer..."He either has short term memory loss or he's a hypocrite. It's one or the other.""— Pat Leonard (@NYDNRangers) March 20, 2012
Those are some pretty strong words there if you ask me. When you step up and challenge John Tortorella, don't expect him to back down whatsoever, as you saw tonight. But with that said, the Rangers will be back in action on Wednesday night when they face-off against the Detroit Red Wings.
With that said, I leave with with the video below: