After blowing a three goal lead in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Ryan Carter bailed the Devils out, burying a sweet pass from Stephen Gionta to put New Jersey back in front of New York, with an empty netter rounding out the 5-3 victory. The Devils would now come home, setting the stage for a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals on their home ice.
Game 6 Begins With a Bang
Both teams would come out hard for the sixth game of this playoff series; the Devils wanted to wrap up the East on home ice while Our Hated Rivals wanted to force a seventh game back in Madison Square Garden. The back and forth action saw both teams stalemate each other until halfway through the first period; that's when Carter would strike again.
Mark Staal would try to keep the puck in New York's offensive zone, but Steve Bernier would knock the puck free, and knock Staal to the side. Bernier would break out with Gionta and Carter trailing him, with only Michael Del Zotto back; Staal would make a great effort to get back however, which coupled with Del Zotto committing to him, forced Bernier to pass to Gionta. With Gio's speed, he broke in alone on Lundqvist, who admittedly made a great save on the shot. Del Zotto and Staal would attempt to find the puck; the only problem was that Ryan Carter would knife between them and jam the rebound home for an early 1-0 New Jersey lead.
Watching this game from home, I'll admit I jumped straight off of my couch and screamed along with the fans in attendance. The reaction to that play was probably the loudest I've ever heard the Prudential Center (well, at least until later in the night) react to a goal. It was the quintessential feel-good moment; the Devils send out their hard-working fourth liners trying to build some momentum for the team, and thanks to their hard-nosed play and some good teamwork, they were rewarded with Carter's second important goal in as many games. I'm a big fan of Ryan Carter; he provides a decent amount of skill to go along with the grit he brings to his game, and to see him notch his fourth of the postseason after notching as many in 65 regular season games played prior that year was a rewarding moment as a fan.
The Rest of Game 6
Like Game 5, the Devils would pile on to their lead before the end of the first period; with Ruslan Fedotenko off for tripping (well, who else at this point) Ryan Carter, the Devils would execute one of the nicest passing plays I have ever seen in my life.
Kovalchuk would tie Travis Zajac for the team lead with 7 goals and great teamwork by the Devils for the second time in this game would reward them with a 2-0 lead that they would take into the locker room. Our Hated Rivals would come back strong in the second however; Fedotenko would atone for his mistake with his second goal of the postseason to cut the lead in half. Within four minutes, Ryan Callahan would tie the game at 2, ending the regulation scoring.
After a scoreless third period, the teams would head for their first overtime of the series. New York would pin the Zajac/Parise/Zubrus line in, and after staving off a couple of shot attempts, they would get the puck to center and change. Adam Henrique would take the puck and send it to Kovalchuk who would take a shot that Lundqvist would save; Alex Ponikarovsky would take a shot from the boards that Lundqvist would stop, but not be able to find. The rest, as they say is history; I leave the call to the legendary Mike "Doc" Emrick:
While this game shall be remembered in history mostly for the above goal, I think it's important to remember the two that preceded it. Forget the fact that if the Devils don't score the other two that Henrique's goal doesn't happen; Kovalchuk's goal was the ultimate example of teamwork which saw all five players on the ice touch the puck before it gets put in the net. I will personally always remember Carter's goal however; it was three guys giving all they had for their team and getting rewarded for playing strong, energetic hockey: Devils hockey.
What memories do you have of Carter setting the sea of Devils red ablaze? Do you think that it set the tone for the game? Where were you when the goal happened? What other memories do you have of Game 6?
Also if we get to do one more Throwback Thursday this summer, what under-appreciated Devils moment would you like to see reviewed? Please leave all comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!