The love-in started on Brandon Dubinsky’s first shift.
A loud, welcoming cry of “Doob!” rolled down from the rafters at Madison Square Garden in recognition of a player who was playing his first playoff game since Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Dubinsky had an assist in 15:38 of ice time in the Rangers’ 5-3 loss to the Devils in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. He took three shots and threw three hits in his 20 shifts, along with being hard on the puck throughout.
“I felt good,” Dubinsky said. “It’s the Eastern Conference finals, and it’s a fast game. It takes two or three shifts to get in there and try to get your timing. It’s a process and I’ll just keep trying to get better for this team.”
Added Rangers coach John Tortorella: “He brought us some energy. I thought that line was pretty good as far as some puck possession.”
• The Rangers are not exactly sweating the 3-2 series deficit since they trailed Ottawa by the same margin during the first round.
“We’ll have to rely on it,” Brad Richards said about the experience the Rangers gained in beating Ottawa in Game 6 of that series. “If we go back [to Newark] and play like we did most of this game, keep pushing it that way, we’ll have a chance.”
Despite the result of Game 5, the Rangers feel good about the way they played Wednesday night. New York initiated the action for the majority of the game for the first time in the series.
“We did the things we wanted to do. We just started to play more and more in waves,” Brian Boyle said. “Some of the things we would do were exactly what we wanted.
“It’s tough we lost [but] we have confidence as a group. We don’t need to say, ‘Oh, we did some good things. It’s a moral victory,’ to give ourselves confidence. We know that. We know we can do some things with the puck; we know we can forecheck and create offense that way.”
• Coach Peter DeBoer praised the Devils’ role players during his morning press availability at The Prudential Center. They responded to their coach’s approval with a strong effort in the Game 5 win.
Stephen Gionta finished with a goal and an assist, while Ryan Carter scored the game-winning goal. Steve Bernier recorded an assist.
“Our depth guys were outstanding tonight,” DeBoer said. “Our fourth line, they were the story tonight. They really have given us momentum throughout the playoffs. That’s playoff hockey. There [are] always unsung heroes and guys that step up this time of year. We’ve got a bunch of them.
“They’re all very smart and very dependable hockey players. We scored with [4:24] left in the game and they’re on the ice. I think that tells you the confidence I have in them,” DeBoer added. “They [have] our confidence as a defensive group. They’ve chipped away offensively and contributed throughout the playoffs.”
You can follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman