The coach of the New York Rangers had seen enough, and he let his team know it in-between periods. “Well, it wasn’t musical,” Renney said after New York turned a two-goal deficit into a 3-2 victory over the Devils on Tuesday night. “This year, that was maybe as passionate as I’ve been.”
Jaromir Jagr scored two goals 26 seconds apart early in the third period and Brendan Shanahan finished off a most improbable rally just over a minute later to help the Rangers snap the Devils’ season-high, four-game winning streak.
“Everyone knew we didn’t play well,” Jagr said of the first two periods. “Speeches are useless unless you go out and do it.”
This rousing rant did the trick.
A 2-0 Devils lead was erased in a 1:30 span, leaving goalie Martin Brodeur hanging his head and Rangers fans derisively chanting “Mar-ty Mar-ty.”
Henrik Lundqvist withstood New Jersey’s late pressure and finished with 20 saves to give the Rangers their first home victory since defeating the Devils on Oct. 16. They are 5-1-1 in their last seven overall.
The Rangers, who blew the Atlantic Division title to New Jersey on the final day of last season, moved into a first-place tie with the Devils.
“There comes a time as a coach where you’ve got to conjure up the proper emotion to go out there and tackle the task at hand,” Renney said. “We weren’t being proactive with respect to putting them on their heels. We proposed that they may want to do that.
“I think it’s a turning point in our season.”
Jagr tied it 26 seconds after his first tally with arguably the ugliest of his 598 career goals. Jagr wound up from near the right-wing boards but shanked a shot high into the air. It floated and fluttered toward the goal and eluded a leaping Brodeur, who had both arms in the air.
Rangers forward Jason Ward was stationed at the left post and had his stick ready to tip the shot as it fell past the crossbar. He didn’t make contact, and the puck dropped in.
“I saw it the whole way. It’s a tough feeling. I thought for sure it was going over the net,” Brodeur said. “We outplayed them. … We had our chances, but just a span of three minutes or so cost us the game.”
Shanahan finished the spurt at 3:35 on the Rangers’ fifth shot of the period when he beat diving Devils defenceman Johnny Oduya to Michal Rozsival’s long lead pass and netted his 14th of the season.
Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Gionta each scored, with assists from defenceman Brian Rafalski, but the Devils went only 1-for-6 on the power play – including three penalties against Jagr. New Jersey had won six of seven.
The Devils, who average fewer than three goals per game, relied on their trademark defensive style and were playing it well until the Rangers rallied for their third victory when trailing after two periods. Through its winning streak, New Jersey hit the three-goal mark twice and outscored opponents only 9-6.
Brodeur had little action in the opening period when New York recorded three shots. The first didn’t come until nearly 10 minutes elapsed, and the last was a long buzzer-beating drive.
Langenbrunner one-timed a pass from Zach Parise from above the right circle and put it between Lundqvist’s pads at 9:05 of the opening period. Lundqvist wasn’t screened and stared down at his clenched pads still in the butterfly position after the goal.
Gionta’s goal – his first in nine games – made it 2-0 with 4:26 left in the second period.
Just 13 seconds into Shanahan’s goalie interference penalty that cut short the Rangers’ third power play, New York forward Blair Betts mistakenly shot the puck in the crowd and was sent off for delay of game.
It took only 38 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage for the Devils to make the Rangers pay as Gionta got the blade of his stick on Patrik Elias’ drive and deflected it past Lundqvist for his eighth of the season and fourth on the power play.
“We’ve been paying attention to detail, and for two periods tonight we were,” Gionta said. “It was just a couple-of-minute letdown in the third that hurt us. We had plenty of goals to win the game.”
Notes: Former Czech President Vaclav Havel was in attendance. Both teams are captained by Czech Republic natives: Jagr for the Rangers, Elias for the Devils. … Shanahan was given the first Mark Messier Leadership Award before the game. … Rangers forward Marcel Hossa had two assists, his first points this season.