The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are in the midst of another epic playoff battle. After the Rangers went into Newark and dominated the first two games on the road, the Devils did the same thing in Madison Square Garden to even the series at 2-2. Both teams then traded off wins to set up Monday night's enormous Game 7 in New Jersey, which is the final first round playoff game remaining.
The two rivals will play a Game 7 for the third time in their postseason history together. And if history is any indicator, fans will be in for a white-knuckle finish.
The Devils and Rangers met in the postseason for the first time in 1992, and that series went the distance. Two years later, they met again, and that clash was decided by double overtime in Game 7. The last time New York and New Jersey met in the playoffs, prior to this year, was in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals. That series went six games and provided yet another memorable finish in this bitter rivalry.
Hopefully, there are more fireworks on the way Monday night as the series reaches its limit. Here's a look back at the postseason history between the Devils and Rangers.
1992 | Rangers def. Devils (4-3) in first round
In the first playoff meeting between these teams, the Devils jumped out to a 2-1 series lead, but the Rangers took control from there. In a pivotal Game 5, Mike Gartner scored a hat trick for the Rangers, and he finished the series with six goals.
New Jersey answered back with a big win in Game 6, but the Rangers jumped out to a huge lead in Game 7 and won comfortably, 8-4.
Mark Messier was the series' leading scorer with 11 points, and he and defenseman Brian Leetch combined for 19 points. Those two powered the Rangers past their rivals despite lackluster goaltending from Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck.
Peter Stastny and Claude Lemieux led the Devils, but they couldn't overcome a poor effort from Chris Terreri in net. New Jersey did try a different option in net, a young kid by the name of Martin Brodeur, but he allowed three goals on fifteen shots. Hopefully the rest of his career worked out.
After winning a thrilling series against the Devils, the Rangers lost to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.
1994 | Rangers def. Devils (4-3) in Eastern Conference finals
This series was an absolute classic. Not only did it go the distance, but three games were decided in double overtime, including Game 7.
The series started with one of those double overtime thrillers, and Stéphane Richer played the role of hero for the Devils. That gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead, but it went back-and-forth the rest of the way.
In Game 3, Stéphane Matteau scored in double overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the series, and that wasn't even his most clutch goal in the series. When Game 7 went to double overtime, Matteau came through again to send the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.
Yet again, Messier led the Rangers with 11 points in the series. After struggling against the Devils in 1992, Richter turned in a phenomenal effort this time around. He stopped 92.3% of the shots he saw and turned in a Game 2 shutout.
As well as Richter played, Brodeur might have been even better. His save percentage was a sparkling 93.4%, but he got very little support. Bernie Nicholls was the Devils' leading scorer with five points.
This time, the Rangers finished the job after disposing of the Devils. In the next round, they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the Stanley Cup.
1997 | Rangers def. Devils (4-1) in second round
New Jersey actually took a 1-0 series lead, but it was all New York after that. The Devils just didn't have enough firepower to solve Richter, and the Rangers rode their hot goaltending to a series victory.
With New Jersey fighting for its playoff life in Game 5, it was able to push the game to overtime. However, Adam Graves extinguished the Devils' hopes just over 14 minutes into the extra frame.
Richter stopped an unbelievable 97.8% of the shots he faced, and he shut out the Devils twice. He was exceptional, and a veteran player by the name of Wayne Gretzky led the Rangers in scoring with five points.
As a result of Richter's nearly perfect performance in goal, no Devils player had more than two points in the series. New Jersey wasted another great effort from Brodeur, whose save percentage was 93.7%, as the team failed to generate enough offense.
In the Eastern Conference final, the Rangers lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
2006 | Devils def. Rangers (4-0) in first round
Finally, the Devils were able to break through against their biggest rival, and they did so in emphatic fashion. Not only did New Jersey sweep New York, but it never won a game by fewer than two goals.
The Devils simply whooped the Rangers, and they got ample offense in this matchup. Patrik Elias led the way with 11 points, but players like Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Gionta also found success. Let's not forget Brodeur either. He earned one shutout and turned away 96.5% of the shots against him.
Exactly one Rangers player, Blair Betts, had multiple points in the series. New York simply couldn't keep pace with New Jersey, but its goaltending tandem didn't help. Henrik Lundqvist struggled in his playoff debut, and Kevin Weekes didn't provide many key stops either.
After the high of sweeping the Rangers, the Devils faltered in the second round and lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in five games.
2008 | Rangers def. Devils (4-1) in first round
This is the only playoff series between these rivals in which the Devils did not hold a series lead. The Rangers went up 2-0 and never really looked back.
Jaromir Jagr and Brandon Dubinsky were key players for the Rangers in this series, and Scott Gomez found some success against his former team. This time around, Lundqvist was extremely effective in goal, turning in a 91.7% save percentage.
The issue for New Jersey was that Brodeur was not his usual self. He stopped just 89.1% of the shots he faced, and that caused the Devils to drop a couple of games that were otherwise pretty winnable.
In the second round, the Penguins defeated the Rangers in six games before rolling to the Stanley Cup Final.
2012 | Devils def. Rangers (4-2) in Eastern Conference finals
After a few series that failed to deliver as much drama, this one really reignited the rivalry in a major way. The Rangers took a 2-1 series lead before the Devils surged back for three straight wins, and the decisive Game 6 came with some fireworks.
Lundqvist shut out the Devils twice in the first three games, and it looked like New Jersey wouldn't be able to create enough offense to win the series. However, they found more of a groove with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk leading the way.
New Jersey picked up a big road win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, and it ended the series in overtime of Game 6. Just over a minute into overtime, Adam Henrique shoveled home a loose puck behind Lundqvist.
One of the keys to New Jersey's win in this series was the fact that Brodeur simply outdueled Lundqvist. The Rangers' netminder had the two shutouts and a 91.8% save percentage, but Brodeur denied 92.7% of New York's shots on goal.
In the Stanley Cup Final, the Devils fell to the Los Angeles Kings, 4-2.