NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -Scott Clemmensen knew it had been five years since he shut out an NHL team.
Although his mind drifted slightly as the minutes ticked down, he kept his focus on protecting the New Jersey Devils' slim lead. When it was all over Monday night, he not only had a key win over the slumping New York Rangers, but that elusive blanking, too.
"I didn't want them to pull within one," said Clemmensen, who made 27 saves in the 3-0 win. "It is satisfying to get it, especially against our big rival. Most important is the way we won. Hopefully we carry that into next game because it's easy to get up and get excited about the Rangers."
New York has had little to be excited about lately. The Rangers dropped their fifth straight game (0-4-1), and after leading the Atlantic Division for most of the first half of the season they have dropped to third place, eight points behind the Devils.
The Rangers are only five points ahead of ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
"The result is what it is," coach Tom Renney said. "We lost another game and we gave up two points to a team that is in our division, and we're chasing them. As much as this was a good effort and we did a number of things better, we can't afford to lose."
Last season, the Devils went 1-4-3 against the Rangers in the regular season and were eliminated from the playoffs by New York in five games.
"It was like, 'Oh my God,' the Rangers were coming in and everyone was all uptight," said Zach Parise, who scored twice. "You have to change something after last year. It wasn't something that was talked about.
"I think it's just everyone's attitude that, 'Hey. We've got a good team here. Let's be more concerned with how we're going to play, rather than who we're playing against.' So far this year it's been a better outcome for us."
The Devils rebounded from a lackluster 3-1 loss to Los Angeles on Saturday that gave them consecutive home defeats. They beat the Rangers for the third straight time after dropping the first two in the season series.
"Right now we're more concerned with catching people on top of us, but at the same time you always want to push teams down," Parise said.
New Jersey is only one point in back of Washington in the race for the second seed in the East behind front-running Boston.
Clemmensen, who has 23 wins in place of injured regular Martin Brodeur, wasn't severely tested as he earned his third career shutout and first in 58 games - dating to March 26, 2004, at Atlanta.
"It's been a long time," he said. "Obviously I haven't played that many games ... but it was nice to get."
His time in the net could be ending soon because Brodeur skated Monday and is close to returning from a biceps tendon injury.
Clemmensen held off the Rangers during five fruitless power plays, including two that were shortened by New York penalties. The Rangers were shut out for the third time in eight games.
"When you get that many power-play opportunities in the first, you've got to generate more," forward Scott Gomez said. "We had to get out of the period with at least one and we didn't do that."
Bobby Holik had the first goal, and Parise scored his 32nd this season into an empty net.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 Devils shots after sitting out Friday night's 10-2 loss at Dallas with the flu.
"Right now, we're in a tough spot," Lundqvist said. "We need everybody to step up, starting with me. I have to play the best that I can."
The Devils took a 1-0 lead 8 minutes into the second period when a pair of former Rangers teamed up. Brendan Shanahan, playing against New York for the first time since he signed with New Jersey last month, fed a pass in front that was shoved between Lundqvist's pads by Holik.
"When you've had a couple of tough losses and you fall behind, it's not for lack of effort but it's just that you press," Shanahan said. "That's why it was important to get the lead and try to jump on them and stay on them."
Just 22 seconds after Holik's tiebreaking goal, New York's Brandon Dubinsky was sent off for holding to give New Jersey its second power play. Parise needed just over a minute to make it count. Parise, who has three goals in three games and seven in 10, is tied for third in the NHL in goals.
The Rangers, who failed on their first four advantages - all handed out in the first period - entered the final period down by two goals for the second straight game after generating only 16 total shots in the first two periods.
New York was trying to bounce back from Friday's rout when backup goalie Steve Valiquette was beaten for six goals in the third period. It was the first time the Rangers allowed 10 goals in 16 years.
The Rangers have scored only five times during their skid and are averaging under two goals over the past 12 games.
"We've got to score goals," Gomez said. "It starts with me. I'm looked upon to create offense and score and I'm just not doing my job. We've got to find a way, whatever it takes."
At Calgary, Alberta, Matthew Lombardi and Dustin Boyd scored short-handed goals and Mike Keenan tied Pat Quinn for fourth in NHL career coaching victories with 657.
Michael Cammalleri, Rene Bourque and David Moss also scored for Calgary, which snapped a season-high, four-game losing streak. Lombardi added two assists for his second three-point game of the season.
Matt D'Agostini and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal, which began a six-game road trip with a sixth straight defeat away from home.
|Bobby Holik (4) ASST: Brendan Shanahan (2), Patrik Elias (39)|
1 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Zach Parise (31) ASST: Travis Zajac (29), Jamie Langenbrunner (29)|
2 - 0 NJD
|EN - Zach Parise (32) ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner (30), Travis Zajac (30)|
3 - 0 NJD
|Colin White Hi-sticking against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Markus Naslund Hooking against Paul Martin|
|Zach Parise Interference on goalkeeper against Henrik Lundqvist|
|Brian Rolston Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Brian Rolston|
|Dainius Zubrus Holding against Lauri Korpikoski|
|David Clarkson Fighting (maj) against Erik Reitz|
|Erik Reitz Fighting (maj) against David Clarkson|
|Mike Rupp Interference against Blair Betts|
|Colton Orr Fighting (maj) against Mike Rupp|
|Mike Rupp Fighting (maj) against Colton Orr|
|Dainius Zubrus Boarding against Scott Gomez|
|Scott Gomez Roughing against Dainius Zubrus|
|Brandon Dubinsky Holding against Zach Parise|
|Scott Gomez Tripping against Zach Parise|
|Dainius Zubrus Hooking against Markus Naslund|
|Wade Redden Hooking against Brendan Shanahan|
|Fredrik Sjostrom Interference against John Madden|