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Fourth line fuelling Devils' playoff run

Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 12:51 AM ET / News
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Fourth line fuelling Devils\' playoff run



NEW YORK -- An NHL team's fourth line is usually an afterthought, filled with journeymen or scrappers who are hanging onto their careers much in the same way a person would cling to a gym rope that was covered in oil.

That's not the case with the fourth line of the New Jersey Devils, which once again came up big during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ryan Carter scored his third goal of the playoffs and second game-winner with 4:23 left in regulation to help give the Devils a 5-3 win at Madison Square Garden in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final and 3--2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Zach Parise, the Devils' captain and a five-time 30-goal scorer, put it bluntly when asked where his team would be without the contributions from Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier.

"I don’t know if we're standing here right now," Parise said. "With just the big goals they scored in this series and the Flyers series, I don't know if we'd be here. They've contributed in ways that you need. They've contributed in ways with how you have to win. It's been great. We can't say enough about those guys."

The Devils let a three-goal lead fade into oblivion, but Carter pulled the team to within one win of a Stanley Cup Final appearance when he buried a gorgeous pass from Gionta with overtime looming. It wasn't just anyone that Gionta beat to the puck to set up the winning goal -- it was Rangers top defenseman Dan Girardi, who wasn't able to get his stick on the pass that led to the winner.

Gionta gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead when he slammed home a rebound of a Mark Fayne shot, his third of the postseason. The line combined for two goals, two assists and was plus-3.

"Our whole fourth line, I thought they were the story tonight," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "Gionta gets a goal, Carter gets a goal, Bernie gave us some big minutes. They really have given us momentum throughout the playoffs. And that's playoff hockey. There's always unsung heroes and guys that step up this time of year, and we've got a bunch of them."

During the postseason, Gionta, Bernier and Carter have a total of 8 goals and 8 assists in 17 games. They are plus-13 and have scored on 15.7 percent of their shots. For some perspective on their efficiency, sniper Ilya Kovalchuk has scored on 11.5 percent of his shots while Parise has scored on 10.4 percent of his attempts.

Gionta was called for the Devils' final regular-season game. Carter was claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers in October. Bernier toiled in the AHL before he was recalled at the end of January.

"They've been great for us all playoffs," center Travis Zajac said. "Gio with a big game tonight, Carter with a big goal, Bernie's been playing well all playoffs. They work well together. They play a lot of time in the offensive zone, which is great. They're a momentum-changing line. Sometimes you need that throughout the game, and they were big for us tonight."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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