I'm sure Derek will get into the nuts and bolts of tonight's game later, but let's face it - this Battle of the Hudson at Madison Square Garden was all about the two goaltenders. If this was a playoff game it would be revered as one of the great games of all time. For the Devils, Martin Brodeur made an incredible 51 saves in regulation and overtime and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist had a comparatively easy night with only 45 stops. That's an astounding 96 shots on net in 65 minutes of hockey without a single goal being scored.
Late in the second period, I recall thinking 'oh my god, this game is going to be scoreless going into the shootout'. Yet ironically tonight might have been the biggest indictment of the shootout yet. I'm not as steadfast against the shootout like Derek or other purists, but tonight was really one of the few times I thought, 'why can't this game just end in a tie?'. Somewhat fittingly none of the first seven shooters scored, increasing the tension tenfold and sending the shootout into sudden death.
And I say this after my team won the skills competition, getting the extra point thanks to a perfect shot from Patrik Elias over Lundqvist's glove, finally turning on the red light for the first and only time this evening. Maybe in that sense it was good that a perfect shot settled it as opposed to something fluky, but while the Rangers got their deserved point the Devils got a gift second thanks to Gary Bettman and the skills competition. It is hard to believe this is Brodeur's first-ever regular season shutout at MSG though, given his career total of 107 and the Devils' dominance over the Rangers in the late 90's.
While I will avoid analysis for the most part, I'll only say I was surprised how the game went, both with how wide-open it was in general and specifically how the Devils played. I figured early on we'd have some jump and then late on we'd wear down but instead it seemed to go the other way, with the Devils being overwhelmed early and then playing some of their best hockey in the third period.
I think Derek will agree with this much though, as bad as ticket prices have been, as many issues as he's had with the team this season - I'm sure he felt tonight it was a priviledge to be in attendance given the last two Olympic gold medalists having an Ali-Frazier like showdown. Even with the contrived ending. On the Devils' website, the headline reads 'Instant Classic'. That it was.