National Hockey League

Devils, Rangers fight for series lead in Game 3

(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils earned a split of the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals in New York City and will try to take their first lead of the series when they host the top-seeded Rangers in today's Game 3 battle at Prudential Center.

New York notched a 3-0 win in the opener of this best-of-seven series at Madison Square Garden, but the sixth-seeded Devils responded with a 3-2 victory in Game 2.

Martin Brodeur made 23 saves and David Clarkson scored the winner early in the third period to allow New Jersey to even this series at one win apiece before it shifts to the Garden State for Games 3 and 4.

Ryan Carter and Ilya Kovalchuk also tallied for the Devils, who are in the conference final round for the first time since winning their last Stanley Cup title in 2003.

"We have to take care of our business at home," New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer said after the win. "This is a tough building and we're glad to get a split, but now we have to take care of business at home."

The Devils, who will also host Game 4 on Monday, are 4-1 on home ice this postseason. The Rangers are 3-3 as the visiting club in the playoffs.

Brodeur is one Devil who is certainly happy the series is switching to Newark for the next two games.

"It's a tough place to play and there's so many bad bounces, the ice isn't good and the boards are tough," Brodeur said of Madison Square Garden. "Mentally it's a tough game to play here because you have to look at the puck all game long."

Marc Staal and Chris Kreider scored power-play goals for the Rangers, who also received 24 saves from Henrik Lundqvist in the loss.

"They came in here really desperate and we had to match it," said Lundqvist. "I thought they were a lot better in the first. We had to play better and we did. So that's a good thing because we had a chance to win this game even though we didn't play our best."

New York is coming of consecutive seven-game series, as it was pushed to the brink against Ottawa in the first round and again by Washington in the conference semifinals.

"We've been in this situation before," said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. "We just have to go into Jersey and try to get that next game. We can't get down. Like I said, we've been in this situation before, and we've come through."

The Rangers are in the conference final round for the first time since 1997 and are attempting to make the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since winning their last championship in 1994.

As Atlantic Division combatants, the Devils and Rangers met six times during the regular season and each team won three of those tilts.

The Blueshirts have dominated the postseason history against the Devils, winning four of the five all-time playoff series between the clubs. New Jersey's only triumph came in the form of a sweep in the 2006 conference quarterfinals, but the Rangers avenged that loss by eliminating the Devils in five games in the opening round of the 2008 postseason.

05/19 10:31:04 ET

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