The only time the Rangers have won two straight in a playoff series this postseason is when they overcame a 3-2 hole in the first round and knocked out Ottawa.
"We have to bring all the good things we did and keep doing them in the next game," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We played really well in the second and third period."
They couldn't say the same about the first.
"It's different when you go down 3-0. You don't have a whole lot to lose," Rangers forward Brian Boyle said. "It was good nonetheless. Now it's 3-2. Now we have to win two. That's the bottom line."
The Rangers burned their timeout early, and Devils coach Peter DeBoer spent his with 10:17 left. Parise implored his teammates on the bench — "Come on boys!" — and the messages from the coach and the captain did the trick.
"It wasn't pretty by any means," Parise said. "But we're going home with a 3-2 lead."
Not only didn't the Rangers have the strong start they craved and insisted they needed, they were practically run out of their building.
The same problems that plagued New York in its 4-1 loss in Game 4, when the Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, cropped up again in front of the frustrated fans.
Gionta got the Devils going 2:43 in, and Elias made it 2-0 1:30 later on New Jersey's fourth shot.
Tortorella used his timeout, but it made little difference. He appeared to be calm as he moved back and forth behind the bench while talking to his players. Whatever the message was it didn't sink in.
The Devils shrugged off a few scoring chances by the Rangers, and padded their lead again.
Just 5:26 after Elias' goal, Zajac made it 3-0 with his seventh of the playoffs. Zajac got a clean shot from just inside the right circle that beat Lundqvist inside the left post.
The tide began to turn the Rangers' way, and they allowed only one shot the rest of the period.
Prust, making his return following a one-game suspension for an elbow he delivered to the head of Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3, showed off a bit of scoring touch when he converted on a breakaway with 4:19 left in the first to make it 3-1.
The Rangers outshot the Devils 9-6 in the lopsided period, but continued their sudden defensive dominance well into the second. Then they cut the Devils' lead to a goal just 32 seconds into the second.
New Jersey didn't record its first shot of the period, and its second since its third goal, until Adam Henrique put a puck in on Lundqvist at 6:23.
Lundqvist, who had stopped 94 percent of the shots he faced in the playoffs before Wednesday, made just 12 saves. The Rangers allowed five goals one game after giving up four for the first time in this postseason.
To make the finals, New York will have to win a third consecutive seven-game series.
"We have to have a short memory," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We've been in this position before in this playoffs and we found a way to get it done. We don't want to look ahead. We have to win two games, but we just have to focus on winning one."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.