Call it the Hudson River rumble.
The Rangers advanced to the franchise’s first Eastern Conference Final appearance since 1997 by defeating the Capitals, 2-1, in Game 7 Saturday night. They will meet the Devils, who advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2003 by eliminating the Flyers in five games.
The Rangers finished the regular season series with a 3-2-1 record against the Devils. The six games were marked by on-ice violence, including a line brawl three seconds into the Rangers’ 4-2 win at the Garden on March 24.
“They’re a great team. We face them a lot so we know what to expect,” Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “It’s going to be a real good series, I think.”
The Rangers will have home ice throughout the series.
The NHL released the schedule for Devils-Rangers series. Games 1 and 2 are Monday and Wednesday nights at the Garden. Game 3 is Saturday afternoon at the Prudential Center and Game 4 will be played on the night of May 21 at the Rock.
If necessary, Games 5, 6 and 7 are scheduled for May 23, 25 and 27.
Bright lights, big names
The Garden was populated with celebrities for the win-or-go-home game. A short list of those in attendance were New York Jets Dustin Keller and Patrick Turner, New York Giants David Baas and Steve Weatherford, Knicks forward Jared Jeffries and former Rangers defenseman Jay Wells.
Wells played 1,089 games in 18 seasons, including 186 games in three-and-a-half years with the Blueshirts. He is best known for having Pavel Bure’s stick break his nose during the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. Wells, who received a nice ovation, also played for the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning.
West no longer waiting
After nearly a week off, the Western Conference playoffs resume tonight with Game 1 of the Los Angeles Kings-Phoenix Coyotes conference final.
This is the first conference final appearance in Coyotes franchise history. Phoenix, in its previous incarnation as the Winnipeg Jets, won the last two World Hockey Association championships in 1978 and 1979.
The Coyotes have been among the league’s lowest payroll teams since the league purchased the team from former owner Jerry Moyes in 2009.
“It’s been pretty cool. We’ve enjoyed the run. When it hasn’t worked, you’ve been told that it can’t. It’s nice to be able to say that it can. We’re pretty excited as a group -- very excited,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan told reporters Saturday. Doan has played all 16 seasons for the Jets-turned-Coyotes.
“I’m pretty sure everyone is probably picking against us anyways again,” Doan said. “It’s where we want to stay -- pretty low-key. Here in the valley, it’s been great. We’ve enjoyed the way that it’s kind of worked out for us the last couple years here. We’ve had success as a team. It will be fun to experience. Again, I think that’s where we’ll go back to a guy like Ray [Whitney] -- guys that have experienced it. Coming in here and talking to you guys, I haven’t done that before; it’s kind of nice.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.