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Newark, N.J. - Martin Brodeur made 27 saves and survived a third-period punch to the chest by old buddy Mike Rupp as the New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Rangers, 4-1, Monday night, evening the Eastern Conference Finals, 2-2.
Zach Parise had two goals and an assist and Bryce Salvador and Travis Zajac beat Henrik Lundqvist less than four minutes apart in the first period in a series where the intensity and the emotions are picking up.
Brodeur even notched an assist in the third, on Parise's empty netter, capping a game in which the Devils maintained their composure and bounced back from a 3-0 shutout in Game 3, while the Rangers took several uncharacteristic penalties and seemed rattled from the start.
Game 5 is Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
This game was one where the chippiness increased with each period. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal whacked Patrik Elias in the back of the knee with his stick in the second. New York captain Ryan Callahan and Devils wing Ilya Kovalchuk tussled and finally Rupp jabbed Brodeur in his crease in the third period after a stoppage.
That almost set off a free-for-all among the players on the ice, especially after Brodeur reacted like he had been hit by a roundhouse right.
The best action, though, was along the benches where Devils coach Peter DeBoer screamed at Rangers coach John Tortorella what he must have perceived was an intentional attack on his goaltender in a game in which the Rangers were once again dominated.
The two coaches also sniped at each other on Sunday, complaining about pick plays and embellishing penalties. Indeed, there are the makings of another classic series in this rivalry.
The Rupp punch came about four minutes after Parise scored on a power play to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead and for all practical purposes, ended the game.
Ruslan Fedotenko ruined Brodeur's bid for his 25th career playoff shutout with just over five minutes to play.