Elias, Gionta help Devils top Rangers in wild affair

By Daren Smith
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) — Linemates Patrik Elias and Brian
Gionta helped the New Jersey Devils avoid an embarrassing
collapse against their bitter rivals.

Elias and Gionta scored 95 seconds apart midway through the
third period Friday as the Devils squandered a four-goal lead
before beating the New York Rangers, 8-5, for their fourth
straight win.

Elias added two assists and Gionta set up three goals while Zach
Parise collected a career-high four assists. Travis Zajac
scored twice and Dainius Zubrus added a goal and two assists for
the Devils, who have won nine of 10.

Captain Jamie Langenbrunner scored a goal and set up another
while Jay Pandolfo and defenseman Johnny Oduya netted
shorthanded tallies for New Jersey, which extended its home
winning streak to five games.

“We had to find a way to beat them tonight. I don’t know if we
would ever get them out of our heads if we had let them come
back and win that one,” Pandolfo said. “Give them credit for
sticking with it, but it was nice to find a way (to win).”

New York has surrendered a league-high 10 shorthanders this

“You don’t need to read about it, you don’t need to hear it.
All you have to do is look at the statistics and recognize we’re
one of the teams that gives those up,” Rangers coach Tom Renney
said. “So why not press, why not push it up ice and force us to
maybe make that play that we can’t, that we don’t want to?”

Nikolai Zherdev registered a goal and three assists and former
Devil Scott Gomez scored a goal and assisted on two others for
the Rangers, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit to forge a tie
before suffering their fourth loss in six games.

“Not a happy camper right now, not a happy camper,” Renney said.
“It would’ve been an ugly win had we gotten it, but it would
have been something they could be proud of had they been able to
pull it off. As it turns out, we gave up eight goals.”

The 13 goals were the most in a game between the clubs since the
Rangers posted an 8-5 triumph on December 23, 1986.

“There were things that happened that were just crazy, things
you wouldn’t expect in a game between the Devils and Rangers,”
New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. “It was one of the
strangest games I’ve been involved with as a coach.”

For the better part of two periods, New Jersey appeared set to
put an emphatic end to New York’s recent dominance in the Hudson
River rivalry. Behind a pair of goals by Zajac, the Devils
stormed to a 5-1 lead.

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But the Rangers regrouped and tied it with less than nine
minutes remaining in the third on Ryan Callahan’s second goal in
as many games.

Elias permanently shifted the momentum just 11 seconds later,
taking a cross-slot pass from Zubrus and scoring into a
half-empty net. It was his 12th goal of the season and fourth
in as many contests.

Gionta, who tied a career high with four points, made it 7-5
with 6:56 to play. After a pass from Zubrus sent him in alone
down the slot, the diminutive right wing deked to his backhand
and slid the puck around the right pad of goaltender Henrik

“Just one of those nights,” said Gionta, who has notched six
goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games. “Obviously, Patty
and Zubes are going hard, they’re making things happen. I felt
I played a fairly strong game, but there’s always things you
look back at and you can correct.”

Langenbrunner capped the scoring just over two minutes later,
beating Lundqvist with a one-timer from the edge of the right
faceoff circle off another feed from Zubrus. New Jersey’s final
three goals came as a result of turnovers.

Scott Clemmensen made 31 saves for the Devils. Lundqvist
stopped 26 shots while matching a career high by allowing eight

“I didn’t think about taking (Lundqvist) out at all,” Renney
said. “I felt this was a (heck) of an opportunity for our team
to show that guy that we do have the fight in us, that we do
have the ability to get ourselves back in the hockey game.
Certainly, to a man, they knew we owed him that much. I thought
he played exceptional. … This was not on Henrik Lundqvist

After Pandolfo and New York’s Markus Naslund traded goals in the
opening 16 minutes of the first period, Zajac put the Devils in
front with 3:01 to go. He struck again a minute into the
second, completing his third career two-goal effort.

But Zajac played just one shift in the third after getting
injured, apparently in a fight with defenseman Dan Girardi.

Oduya poked in a loose puck at 7:31 of the second, giving New
Jersey two shorthanded goals in the same game for the first time
since October 16, 1993. Zubrus tallied four minutes later, but
Zherdev and Gomez scored in the final 4:14 of the period to get
the Rangers within 5-3 and defenseman Paul Mara beat Clemmensen
with a wrister from the blue line 88 seconds into the third to
make it a one-goal game.