Game 7 wins put Devils, Rangers in East semis

It’s a joyful moment for Dan Girardi, left, and Brandon Prust after Girardi gives the Rangers a 2-0 lead over the Senators.

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It’s a joyful moment for Dan Girardi, left, and Brandon Prust after Girardi gives the Rangers a 2-0 lead over the Senators.

NEW YORK — The Rangers should be very proud of themselves for eliminating the Senators from the playoffs Thursday night, their coach, John Tortorella, said.

And they should feel that way "for about an hour," he said.

His players backed his view.

"You don't want to relax too much" said forward Derek Stepan, who helped set up the opening goal in the 2-1 win in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. "We have a big round ahead of us, and we have to make sure we stay focused and keep that emotion high."

Defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi scored 4:18 apart in the second period, and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Rangers, who face the Capitals in the semifinals, which begin Saturday.

Staal broke the scoreless deadlock, and Girardi, Staal's defense partner, gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead with his first career playoff goal. Lundqvist allowed Daniel Alfredsson's power-play goal in the second but stood tall the rest of the way.

Lundqvist withstood tons of pressure from the Senators, who spent most of the closing 5 minutes in the Rangers' end. The win wasn't secure until Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar tripped Carl Hagelin as he skated toward the Senators' empty net with 36.2 seconds remaining.

Tortorella, who is not easily impressed, praised his team's defensive performance in the third period. Alfredsson said at times it felt like the Rangers had three goalies on the ice throughout the game. New York was credited with 23 blocked shots.

Ottawa was the last Canadian team remaining in the playoffs. This is the first time since 1996 a Canadian team hasn't advanced past the first round.

The Senators were the East's eighth seed in the first season of coach Paul MacLean, hired after Cory Clouston was fired after not making the playoffs last season.

"We're real excited about our team and the steps we took this season," MacLean said. "At the end of the day, (the Rangers) deserved to win the series and move on."

Rangers 0 2 0 2
Senators 0 1 0 1

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesDubinsky, NYR (holding), 16:08.

Second Period1, N.Y. Rangers, Staal 1 (Callahan, Stepan), 4:46. 2, N.Y. Rangers, Girardi 1 (Dubinsky, Prust), 9:04. 3, Ottawa, Alfredsson 2 (Phillips, Gonchar), 11:34 (pp). PenaltiesDel Zotto, NYR (cross-checking), 9:59; Kuba, Ott (interference), 18:36.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesCowen, Ott (high-sticking), 3:51; Gonchar, Ott (tripping), 19:23. Shots on GoalOttawa 10-8-9—27. N.Y. Rangers 8-12-9—29. Power-play opportunitiesOttawa 1 of 2; N.Y. Rangers 0 of 3. GoaliesOttawa, Anderson 3-4-0 (29 shots-27 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 4-3-0 (27-26).

Devils oust Panthers

SUNRISE — Adam Henrique scored his second goal of the game at 3:47 of the second overtime, and the Devils beat the Panthers 3-2 in Game 7 of their East quarterfinal early today.

New Jersey meets the Flyers in the conference semifinals.

The Devils wasted a 2-0 lead in the third period. Stephen Gionta also scored in regulation for New Jersey, which won a series for the first time since 2007.

Martin Brodeur made 43 saves for the Devils.

Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc scored third-period goals, and Jose Theodore made 32 saves for the Panthers, who made a surprising run to the Southeast Division title this season and earned their first postseason berth in 12 years.

On the winner, Henrique picked up a loose puck in the right circle, skated toward the slot and beat Jose Theodore with a low shot. The Devils mobbed Henrique as Theodore knelt on the ice in disbelief.

Down 2-0 entering the third period, Florida had no choice but to attack. With Florida on a 4-on-3 advantage, Weiss cut the lead in half at 5:02, burying a one-timer from the right circle after a pass from Brian Campbell.

Devils 1 1 0 0 1 3
Panthers 0 0 2 0 0 2
Devils 1 1 0 0 1 3
Panthers 0 0 2 0 0 2

First Period1, New Jersey, Henrique 1 (Volchenkov, Clarkson), 1:29. PenaltiesSalvador, NJ (roughing), 6:04; Gudbranson, Fla (roughing), 6:04; Kulikov, Fla (hooking), 7:16; Clarkson, NJ (diving), 10:39; Jovanovski, Fla (holding), 10:39; Salvador, NJ (interference), 17:20.

Second Period2, New Jersey, Gionta 2 (Harrold, Carter), 9:15. PenaltiesNone.

Third Period3, Florida, Weiss 3 (Campbell, Samuelsson), 5:02 (pp). 4, Florida, Goc 2 (Bergenheim, Garrison), 16:32 (pp). PenaltiesMatthias, Fla (goaltender interference), 1:50; Clarkson, NJ (high-sticking), 3:06; Gudbranson, Fla (slashing), 3:52; Harrold, NJ (holding), 4:44; Zidlicky, NJ (delay of game), 16:12. First OvertimeNone. PenaltiesVersteeg, Fla (slashing), 3:21. Second Overtime5, New Jersey, Henrique 2 (Ponikarovsky, Clarkson), 3:47. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalNew Jersey 9-11-6-9-1—36. Florida 12-2-19-12-0—45. Power-play opportunitiesNew Jersey 0 of 3; Florida 2 of 4. GoaliesNew Jersey, Brodeur 4-2-0 (45 shots-43 saves). Florida, Theodore 2-2-0 (36-33).

Norris finalists: The Bruins' Zdeno Chara, the Senators' Erik Karlsson and the Predators' Shea Weber are the finalists for the Norris Trophy, given to the league's best defenseman. The winner will be announced June 20 at the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

Game 7 wins put Devils, Rangers in East semis 04/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 12:50am]

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