EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Don't tell the New Jersey Devils they're not in the same class with the New York Rangers. Not after the first two games of their Eastern Conference final.
Sure, the Rangers dominated the Devils Tuesday night, limiting them to 16 shots in a 4-0 victory in Game 2 to even the best-of-7 series. But the Devils, who recorded a 4-3 double-overtime victory in Game 1, say the game wasn't as one-sided as people think.
"People will look at 4-0 and look at the shots and say we were not there at all," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said Wednesday after the team's optional workout. "But one thing I know is if we would have scored, if (Bill) Guerin would have scored or we would have scored on 5-on-3, I know it would have been a different game."
The series moves to the Meadowlands Arena for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday.
The two sequences that still stick in Lemaire's mind from Game 2 both happened in the second period with the Rangers clinging to a 1-0 lead.
Guerin swept down the left boards and broke in alone only to be stopped on a great glove save by Rangers goalie Mike Richter. A few minutes later, New York withstood a 5-on-3 New Jersey power play, limiting the Devils to one shot.
Despite the failures and a great forechecking job by the Rangers, New Jersey was still in the game heading into the third period.
However, New York put the game away with three goals in the opening 8:38 to post their seventh win in eight games with New Jersey this season.
"I don't think Game 1 was a fluke for us, nor do I think it was a fluke for them to win Game 2," Devils forward Tom Chorske said. "We took it to them in Game 1 and they took it to us in Game 2. It's an evenly matched situation."
Most people forget the Devils only finished six points behind New York in the race for the best record in the league.
"To beat New York, we need the guys at their best," Lemaire said.