NEWARK, N.J. – The New York Rangers are going to different extremes to find ways to win.
Two nights after bombarding the New York Islanders with a season-high 52 shots in a lopsided win, the Rangers allowed a season-high 44 shots and let goalie Henrik Lundqvist do his thing in yet another victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Lundqvist made a season-high 43 saves and the Rangers beat New Jersey 3-1 on Wednesday night, handing the Devils their sixth straight loss and leaving them winless since Jacques Lemaire took over as coach last week.
“It’s all about finding a way to win these types of games,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “Hank gave us a chance with his play and then we got better as the game went on. We’re not going to be perfect every night. There are going to be nights like this. They controlled it on us early on, but our goalie gave us a chance.”
Lundqvist admitted the Rangers were clearly not at their best in winning for the fifth time in seven games (5-1-1).
“It feels better than playing well and losing,” said Lundqvist, whose previous season high in saves was 40 in a 3-0 win over Florida on Nov. 26. “As the game went on, I felt better and felt I had a chance to get to everything. I knew that in no way it was going to be an easy game. They’re not a bad team, despite their record.”
Defenceman Michal Rozsival scored the winner on a second-period shot that deflected off Devils defenceman Andy Greene.
Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky also scored for New York, which is 3-0 against the Devils this season and has outscored them 8-2.
“We knew that they had their struggles this year, but they’re still capable of turning it on,” said Dubinsky, who scored into an empty net to ice the game in the closing seconds. “We didn’t want it to be against us. We expected them to come out hard. We can’t play our best every night, but with Hank back there, we found a way to steal this one.”
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, New Jersey has lost 20 of 28 meetings with New York.
Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who played their best game since Lemaire replaced John MacLean three games ago.
However, the NHL’s lowest scoring team (62 goals) was denied time and time again by Lundqvist in losing for the 11th time in 12 games this month. The six-game losing streak is a season high for New Jersey.
“There were a lot of positives,” said Devils centre Jason Arnott, who had a power-play shot go off the crossbar with a little more than two minutes to play. “We played hard. It just didn’t go our way. We started doing more things that Jacques has been telling us and it paid off. If we play like that, we are going to win hockey games.”
Lemaire criticized the Devils before the game for not being in shape and it showed in the third period when New Jersey managed just seven shots in the final period despite having two power plays.
Lundqvist faced only a couple of serious threats in the final 20 minutes with the best coming on a deflection down low by Jamie Langenbrunner and another on Ilya Kovalchuk’s power-play slap shot.
Despite being outshot 36-17 in the first two periods, the Rangers held a 2-1 lead on goals by Boyle and Rozsival.
Rozsival put the Rangers ahead with less than seven minutes left in the second period on a fluke goal. Dubinsky centred the puck from behind the net and Rozsival’s shot from the top of the right circle hit off the arm of Greene and deflected past Brodeur.
“That’s par for the course for this year,” Brodeur said. “Just another bad goal, a bad bounce to bad us.”
Boyle, who had never scored more than four goals in any of his first three NHL season, got his 14th just 47 seconds after Zajac gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 6:31. Boyle took a pass in the left circle from Ruslan Fedotenko and scored on a shot that went off Brodeur’s glove.
The Devils’ goal came after they peppered Lundqvist with a flurry of shots. The goalie stopped every one until Zajac swatted the rebound of Mattias Tedenby’s shot into the net.
Tedenby had a chance to tie it at 2-2 less than a minute after Rozsival scored, but Lundqvist stopped his breakaway attempt, twice glancing over his shoulder to make sure the puck wasn’t in the net.
NOTES: Devils D Anton Volchenkov nailed Dubinsky near the blue-line early in the game. … Boyle and Dainius Zubrus had a good fight in second period. … Devils placed veteran Brian Rolston on re-entry waivers. … Rangers D Michael Del Zotto missed his third straight because of a groin injury. … The game was the start of the Rangers’ three-game trip.