Rangers rise in third period to beat Devils

Dan Girardi (5) is congratulated by teammates after Dan Girardi (5) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the Rangers' first goal during the third period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. (May 19, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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NEWARK, N.J. - NEWARK -- The Devils were starting to dominate. After outshooting the Rangers 11-5 in the first period Saturday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make three big saves early in the second.

He stopped Ilya Kovalchuk on a breakaway, then turned away Dainius Zubrus' blast and stoned Adam Henrique on the rebound. Coach John Tortorella had seen enough, and called a timeout at 1:51.

"We were too slow, we were lethargic," Tortorella said. "We were going to get burned, we were going to get scored on, I felt, because we were just too lackadaisical, for what reason I have no idea."

The timeout wasn't the only watershed moment of the 3-0 win that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. But the Blueshirts played better in the second half of the period, and then exploded in the third with goals from Dan Girardi on a power play and Chris Kreider just 1:57 apart to support Lundqvist's 36-save shutout, his second whitewash of the series and sixth of his career. Ryan Callahan added an empty-netter with 2:13 left. Game 4 is at Prudential Center on Monday night.

The game unfolded like Game 1, a 3-0 Rangers victory sparked by three third-period goals at Madison Square Garden.

"It was kind of a lopsided first again for them, and we had a good second, I think that was similar," Marc Staal said. "We had 20 minutes to win a game and we seized that opportunity."

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Girardi's goal came on a power play at 3:19 after Brad Richards beat Patrik Elias on the faceoff. Kreider's goal was a deflection of Ryan McDonagh's slapper in front at 5:16.

"Cally had a couple good opportunities, then I was trying to get to the net," Kreider said. "McDonagh had a great shot, it just found my stick."

It was the fifth goal in 15 playoff games for the rookie who parachuted into the playoffs directly out of his junior year at Boston College. No other NHL player has scored five goals without appearing in a regular-season game.

"He has a knack," Tortorella said. "We talked about it between periods, we needed him to be better defensively, but we felt he had the best chance to score a goal. We end up scoring a couple, but it's pretty exciting to see what he's doing."

After Kreider's goal, the Rangers, who had killed three power plays though the first 40 minutes, then killed three more in the third, although Peter Harrold hit the post on the second one. "We're flirting there, taking [six] penalties," Tortorella said. "But tonight, [the penalty-kill] came up big for us, especially in the third period when we had a lead."

Said Devils coach Peter DeBoer: "When their goalie's on like that, your goaltender is your best penalty killer."

Lundqvist was the difference-maker, stopping 26 shots in the first 40 minutes, including numerous odd-man rushes and two breakaways. "You're looking at a guy like Kovalchuk, with two breakaways," Richards said. "That's what gives you such a lift. He's standing there, giving him nothing.

"Just knowing that we're tied zero-zero, we feel fortunate. The first three or four minutes of the third period, we put pressure on them, got them to ice the puck, drew a penalty and we started going. We got a goal and we got some jump then."

With Girardi's game-winner, the Rangers' power play is 4-for-10 in the series, but Lundqvist's performance was the postgame buzz. "He was sharp early, you could tell he was just kind of in one of those zones," Staal said. "When he's that sharp and they're shooting everything at him and he's coming up with those stops, I'm sure they feel some frustration. You can do that to teams."

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