Devils-Rangers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 07, 2012
A bizarre bounce played a key role in the New York Rangers falling to the New Jersey Devils last week. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get a chance to keep that from happening at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is scheduled to be in net as he tries to continue his success against the surging Devils as the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers host their Atlantic Division rivals Tuesday night. New York (33-12-5) seemed to be on their way to a victory over New Jersey (30-19-3) last Tuesday before falling 4-3 in a shootout in Newark. The Rangers held a one-goal lead until a dump-in ricocheted off the boards and went in front of the net, where an unmarked David Clarkson was able to beat Martin Biron with 47.6 seconds left to force overtime. The unfortunate circumstance was shrugged off by Rangers coach John Tortorella. "We were in total control," Tortorella said. "Then, we get a bad bounce. I liked our game. We played good." Lundqvist has played well against the Devils, going 23-9-5 with a 1.82 goals-against average and five shutouts in the regular season, including 30 saves in a 4-1 win at New Jersey on Dec. 20. He's been dominant at MSG, compiling a 13-3-2 record, 1.46 GAA and four of those shutouts. "It's always a great challenge to play them," Lundqvist said of the Devils, who have scored 20 goals during a season high-tying four-game win streak. "They're a good team, especially lately here, they've been playing really well. "I expect a tough game. We know what to expect, but it looks like their top players are playing really good hockey right now. We definitely have to make sure we play them tough. Play them physical." Lundqvist is on a superb run entering this installment of the Hudson River rivalry, posting a 0.96 GAA and two shutouts during a four-game winning streak. He made 21 saves in a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday after a dazzling 34-save effort with three more in the shootout of Wednesday's 1-0 win at Buffalo. The All-Star goaltender is tied with Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick for the NHL lead with six shutouts, while his 1.82 GAA is second to St. Louis' Brian Elliott (1.69). That's part of the reason the Rangers are atop the East by three points on Northeast Division-leading Boston. New Jersey, however, is picking up steam behind its current surge, and is one point back of Pittsburgh for fifth in the conference. The Devils have not won five straight since an eight-game run from Feb. 6-22, 2011. "It never gets old," coach Peter DeBoer told the team's official website. "I'm glad we're playing them because there's an internal motivator there already because of the rivalry, because of the history between the two teams, because they're our division rival. Where they sit in the standings, not a lot needs to be said." Ilya Kovalchuk has sparked New Jersey recently, netting three goals and seven assists during the win streak. That started with a regulation goal and another in the shootout against the Rangers last week. "We ask every guy to chip in every night," said goaltender Martin Brodeur, who is scheduled to start. "He's doing a lot of things, like killing penalties. He has a lot more responsibility now, and he's taken it with a positive spin." Kovalchuk's 22 goals lead the Devils, while his 50 points are one behind Patrick Elias for the team lead. Elias has 17 points over the last 13 games, but just two in seven games against New York. Kovalchuk has had more success, netting six goals with two assists in nine meetings. New York is getting production from Marian Gaborik, the team's leader with 26 goals. He's scored three goals with six assists in eight games, setting up two tallies in New Jersey. The right wing has five points in two season matchups.
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