NEWARK -- After allowing four goals for the first time in the postseason, the Rangers went down swinging Monday night. How much punch they have left is yet to be determined.
Zach Parise scored twice and had an assist as the desperate Devils rattled the Rangers into losing their cool and rolled to a 4-1 win to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals at two games each.
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Game 5 is at Madison Square Garden Wednesday and Game 6 is back here Friday.
Game 4 of the series, which is becoming increasingly bitter, was underscored by Ryan Callahan's shouting at Ilya Kovalchuk after a spear to the abdomen at 15:03 of the second period and a shouting match and finger-pointing between Rangers coach John Tortorella and Devils counterpart Peter DeBoer at 6:18 of the third period after Mike Rupp knocked down Martin Brodeur with a left to the chest after the whistle.
Rupp, a former Devil, received four minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
Stu Bickel and Ryan Carter also received misconducts.
Tortorella and DeBoer declined to discuss what was said in the exchange, and players dismissed the shenanigans.
"It's emotions," Kovalchuk said. "You have to be angry if you want to win. It's hockey, not chess. We're allowed to punch each other.''
Said Callahan: "It's just playoff hockey. You see it in every series. That's part of the game.''
Rupp, a former Devil, was unavailable for comment, but Brodeur said that he was "minding my own business . . . I never really yap at anybody, especially him, he's so big. He just turned around and I guess he was a little pumped up and wanted to get somebody. I was the first target. It's a sign they're getting off their game a little bit."
Actually, the Rangers appeared doomed at the first intermission, as Michael Del Zotto made some costly errors on the goals.
"We obviously weren't good enough. The first couple there hurt us," Marc Staal said. "It's their building. We just need to be prepared.''
The Rangers, already behind on a long, low, seeing-eye goal from Bryce Salvador through traffic and Henrik Lundqvist's pads, had no shots until Carl Hagelin forced Brodeur to make one of his 28 saves at 10:21 of the first period.
When asked for a common thread in the Rangers' slow starts, Lundqvist, who made 26 saves, was curt: "I don't know, ask Torts. I'm just a goalie."
It was only the fourth time in 18 postseason games that the Rangers trailed by two goals. But because they had scored three or more only six times in 17 games, the Blueshirts would have to mount a remarkable rally. It didn't happen.
After a scoreless second period in which the Rangers steadied themselves a bit and outshot the Devils 11-9, Parise scored his first goal in the series on a rebound at the doorstep at 2:41 of the third on a power play, only their second in 13 opportunities.
Trailing 3-0, Ruslan Fedotenko ruined Brodeur's chance for his second shutout of the playoffs with his first goal of the postseason at 14:55 of the third.
Parise scored an empty-netter with 1:29 left.
"It was a struggle for a number of our guys," Tortorella said. "We have to move by it. I thought we gained some traction as the game went on. We're still not making a big offensive play when we need to."
But Tortorella remained confident.
"It's a three-game series. This team has been there before," he said. "As I've said all year long, when we get situations where we've been into trading games, we always find a way to come up with a big game."