NEWARK, N.J. -- In a vintage goaltender's duel between two of the best the NHL has to offer, Henrik Lundqvist defeated Martin Brodeur, getting the 50th shutout of his career in the New York Rangers' 2-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at Prudential Center.
The shutout by Lundqvist, who made 10 of his 21 saves in the third period, broke a tie with Ed Giacomin for most in Rangers history. Brodeur, the NHL's all-time shutout leader with 124, made 25 saves.
"My parents flew in [Friday] to be here and share this moment with me to break the shutout record and that means a lot to me," Lundqvist said. "I'm really happy right now."
He has every reason to be after guiding the Rangers to their fourth win in five games and fourth straight on the road. They lead the League with 23 road victories. New York (39-29-4, 82 points) has home games against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday and Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Lundqvist is 26-9-6 with six shutouts in 41 regular-season games against Brodeur, who is 15-21-5 with three shutouts.
"It was definitely a grinding type game from both teams," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "There wasn't a lot of room. In the first, our goaltender made two key saves against some real top players, [Jaromir] Jagr on the breakaway and [Travis] Zajac coming right down the middle there, and what we did was we just kept grinding away. We found a way to score a big goal in the second and took it from there."
Nash scored his 23rd goal of the season 10:33 into the second period. Chris Kreider fed Stepan down the middle of the ice, Stepan ripped a shot from the top of the right circle that went wide of the left post, Kreider skated through the crease, and Nash picked up the puck along the left-wing boards. He quickly snapped a shot into the net with Brodeur on his knees.
"[Kreider] kind of took Marty out a little bit, and I believe the referee was calling a penalty on us for pushing their player into Marty, which I didn't understand," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "By the time [Brodeur] recovered getting bumped into, the puck was in the net."
Brodeur had kept the game scoreless when he denied Mats Zuccarello at 7:27. Derick Brassard skated down left wing and fed Martin St. Louis, who delivered to Zuccarello steaming down the middle of the ice. He ripped a snap shot from 30 feet that Brodeur deftly turned away with his left pad. The block prompted chants of "Marty! Marty!"
"He's always tough against us; he plays the puck so well so you have to be smart and know where you dump it in," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "He has a way of putting rebounds where you can't get them. He was good, but luckily we were able to get one on him."
Devils defenseman Andy Greene was whistled for tripping with 2:03 remaining in the third period when New Jersey was generating quality opportunities. Despite being one man down, DeBoer opted to pull Brodeur with 1:25 remaining and they did get some chances. A scrum with Lundqvist on his back and Zajac and Jagr pushing at the puck resulted in a video review that was inconclusive and ruled no goal with 38.9 seconds left.
"It was under [Lundqvist] and he was in the net, but you couldn't tell," Zajac said. "It was a good chance but there's no good view of the puck. They didn't call it a [goal] because they had no view of the puck."
Stepan scored his 15th of the season with the Rangers on a power play with seven seconds remaining. He has five goals and 15 points in 13 games since the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Devils, who have 11 games remaining, have lost four of five and were shut out for the ninth time this season. New Jersey will play the fourth of a five-game homestand Sunday against former teammate David Clarkson and the Toronto Maple Leafs, then Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Devils (30-28-13) are six points behind the Detroit Red Wings, who own the second Eastern Conference wild-card position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"All season long the problem was scoring goals," Jagr said. "Everybody says we work hard. That's what you're supposed to do every night. No? It's not a bonus. It should be automatic."
The Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the second-place Flyers but three ahead of the fourth-place Washington Capitals and four in front of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lundqvist (28-22-4, five shutouts) is tied with Chris Osgood at 26th on the NHL list for career shutouts. He became the Rangers' all-time wins leader Tuesday with his 302nd, an 8-4 decision against the Ottawa Senators, and is 304-193-61.
"Halfway through the game, I had only faced 11 shots but it felt like a lot more," Lundqvist said. "I think they missed the net a lot, and playing [Friday] and Saturday was tough physically and mentally. The challenge was not making an excuse, but making good decisions in there. We had to fight through it."
The Devils took 13 shots that missed the net and had 14 blocked. The first of five saves in the first period by Lundqvist came off the stick of Jagr at 9:49. He broke in 1-on-1, stopped short in the crease and looked to curl the puck inside the left post, but the Lundqvist got his right pad down in time.
"He just has a long reach, and when he went to right I just tried to go with him with my pad, and when he went back I tried to stretch as much as I could," Lundqvist said.
Zajac said he felt the Rangers were fatigued in the third period, which enabled the Devils to generate high-percentage scoring opportunities.
"They were a little tired and we took advantage of that, and they were sitting back a little so we were able to come into the zone and make a few more plays," Zajac said.
Vigneault was proud of the Rangers' effort over the final 20 minutes.
"We had played [Friday, a 3-1 win at Columbus] and it was important for us to make sure the shift lengths were the right amount of time and that we were managing the puck," he said. "They're a team that applies a lot of pressure. They're hard on the forecheck. They're a big heavy team, so we had to grind it down, sort of take a page out of their book. I thought we did a pretty good job."
Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov sustained a lower-body injury midway through the second and didn't return, leaving New Jersey with five defensemen. Volchenkov played seven minutes and took 10 shifts before exiting. The Devils did not update his status afterward.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL
|Daniel Carcillo Roughing against Bryce Salvador|
|Bryce Salvador Roughing against Daniel Carcillo|
|Mats Zuccarello Slashing against Martin Brodeur|
|Bryce Salvador Hooking against Martin St. Louis|
|Jaromir Jagr Cross checking against Anton Stralman|
|Andy Greene Tripping against Rick Nash|