- Last Updated: 9:27 AM, May 22, 2012
- Posted: 2:47 AM, May 22, 2012
Hostilities have been declared, and escalated. And how.
According to the often-twisted code of hockey, the Devils would have every right to take the Battle of the Hudson into Henrik Lundqvist’s crease tomorrow night at the Garden.
The victim says his Devils should decline that license.
“No. You can’t start that,” Martin Brodeur told The Post last night. “I don’t think that’s the right way to play hockey. Because they do something, you have to reply and do the same?”
Brodeur said he was “stung” by ex-Devil Mike Rupp’s unprovoked, unsuspecting punch late in last night’s 4-1 Devils victory in Newark that squared this series 2-2.
“I didn’t expect it, Rupp or no Rupp. I never got punched like that in my career. First time,” Brodeur said.
Rupp likely faces league discipline, perhaps a suspension, for his antics at 6:18 of the third period in last night’s escalation of hostilities. He was called for decking Peter Harrold behind Brodeur’s net, and in passing, punched Brodeur.
“Now I know I can take a punch. He hit me more on the chest, and his fist hit my mask,’’ said Brodeur.
“You don’t like to see that. Obviously he is a key guy for us. Two teams battling it out, stuff like that happens. [Brodeur] is a big boy, he can take care of himself,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said.
While that melee was being untangled, Rangers coach John Tortorella and DeBoer renewed the war of words they started two months ago. DeBoer apparently blasted Tortorella for Stu Bickel’s crosscheck to the neck of Devils center Ryan Carter minutes earlier.
“I’m not going to answer any questions on that,” Tortorella said about his screaming match wtih DeBoer.
“This isn’t about John and myself. It’s about the guys on the ice,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have anything to say about that.”
“I’m sure they’ll review that,” Carter said of Bickel’s unpenalized crosscheck.
Carter had warned the Rangers on Friday against going after Brodeur.
“That’s part of the game of playoff hockey against a great goaltender,” Carter told The Post Friday. “They’ll try to rattle him. That wouldn’t be a surprise.
“But it’s a slippery slope. They have a goaltender, too.”
Last night, though, Carter said the Devils should, and will, take the high road.
“Marty’s fine. We’re not going to run right down and do something back,” Carter said. “Maybe we can use it to our advantage.”
Almost lost in the end-game theatrics was the dominance the Devils again displayed, and this time, capitalized upon. If Lundqvist shuts New Jersey out, the Rangers have won. If he doesn’t, they’ve lost.
The eruption of the previously simmering series promises further drama, now that it’s best-of-3 for the trip to play for the Stanley Cup. Someone goes to the brink of the finals tomorrow in the Garden, with the Rangers having home-ice in two of the possible three.
Last night was the first time in these playoffs the Rangers allowed four goals, and the Devils looked like the much better team, with goaltending the last remaining issue.
The Devils had already opened the scoring before the Rangers put a shot on Brodeur 10:20 into play. Bryce Salvador notched his third of the playoffs at 8:10 of the first when his left point wrister went in off defender Anton Stralman’s skate on the Devils’ fifth shot.
Jersey took its first two-goal lead of the series at 11:59 on Travis Zajac’s sixth. Zach Parise danced past Michael Del Zotto along the right boards for a 2-on-1, and Dan Girardi failed to block the pass across, which Zajac one-timed high on Lundqvist’s short side, the Devils’ eighth shot.
In the scoreless second, Tortorella benched Del Zotto, having a nightmare game, and shuffled his top two lines, using Marian Gaborik with Derek Stepan and Hagelin, and Chris Kreider with Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan.
Parise made it 3-0 on a power play rebound off Ilya Kovalchuk’s point shot at 2:41 of the third. That set the stage for Rupp’s moment of madness, and the DeBoer-Tortorella confrontation.
The two coaches sparred verbally March 19, when DeBoer called Tortorella “either a hypocrite” or lacking memory. Tortorella later told DeBoer to “just shut up.” They had jawed at each other over the boards that night, too.
Ruslan Fedotenko spoiled Brodeur’s shutout bid with 5:05 left, on the Rangers’ 22nd shot. Parise added the empty-netteer with 1:29 left.