NEWARK, N.J. -- As disappointed as the New Jersey Devils were to lose by three goals against the Ottawa Senators two nights ago, they left Canada's capital city feeling better about their game, thinking they had done some good things and were closer to playing the type of hockey they feel they can on a consistent basis.
The result matched their belief Saturday at Prudential Center, where the Devils picked up their first win of the season in a rout, defeating the New York Rangers, 4-0, despite not having Patrik Elias (flu), Damien Brunner (upper-body soreness) or Ryane Clowe (head) in the lineup.
The two points earned moved the Devils (1-4-3) ahead of the Rangers (2-5-0) and Columbus Blue Jackets (2-5-0) into fifth place in the Metropolitan Division.
Cory Schneider made 22 saves for his 10th career shutout and first with the Devils in what was his first home start for New Jersey.
"My message to the team after that Ottawa game is, I really felt it was a real good step in the right direction for the first time in a while," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought it was a really good step for playing how we have to play in order to be successful. I felt that if we could come out and play like again that we would be successful, and we did."
New Jersey lost that game in Ottawa, 5-2, but didn't have much of a chance early after Martin Brodeur gave up a goal on each of the first two shots. The Devils wound up outshooting Ottawa, 43-22, and felt they controlled the play for the final 50 minutes.
"I don't think the score indicated the way we played that game," Schneider said.
It did Saturday. The Devils built their 4-0 lead within the first 35 minutes and were in control for the full 60.
Andrei Loktionov, who was playing in place of Brunner, got the Devils on the board 7:22 into the first period with his first goal of the season. Just over five minutes later, Rostislav Olesz, who was in for Elias, sprung Adam Henrique down the left-wing wall leading to the second goal of the night. Olesz had the first assist for his first point with New Jersey.
Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky each had two assists, and on Ryder's goal, a 50-foot slap shot from the top of the zone during a power play, Olesz was in front of the net screening Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up the four goals on 19 shots.
"It was a full team effort," Henrique said. "Everybody played hard from Cory right on out. We were able to roll four lines, everybody was into the game. We got contributions from everybody. The [penalty kill, 2-for-2] was good. We got one on the power play. I just thought we played really well."
Lundqvist took the majority of the blame for the loss. He left long rebounds on the goals by Loktionov and Zubrus and was beaten clean on his blocker side by Henrique's uncontested slap shot from the left circle.
Lundqvist fell to 2-4-0 on the season, his goals-against average went up to 3.45, and his save percentage dropped to .890.
"It's the way I focus," said Lundqvist, who was coming off a 22-save shutout at the Washington Capitals this past Wednesday. "When I play well, my focus is really crisp and I'm making good decisions. Right now it's a little up and down, the way I make decisions. It's not fun. The only way to turn it around is to work hard, and good things will happen. I'll start getting my confidence."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was more diplomatic in spreading the blame around. He said the Rangers needed a better pushback offensively after Loktionov scored, and definitely after Henrique made it 2-0. They didn't get it, but it didn't help that they were playing without three of their top-six forwards (Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin).
"We need to find a way to score a little bit more than we're doing at this time," Vigneault said of his team, which is 28th in goals-per-game at 1.57.
Vigneault, though, wasn't about to defend the way Lundqvist played Saturday. He said the Rangers gave the Devils eight scoring chances, but because New Jersey scored on four of them, the goalie needs to shoulder some of the load for the loss.
"I'm sure if you were to ask him he would probably tell you he knows he can be better than what he's shown, and he needs to be better," Vigneault said. "But that being said, from the short time I've been with him, I know he's a true professional. He had a great game in Washington, had a great practice, and he's an extremely hard worker. That's what he's going to continue to do."
DeBoer and many of the Devils noted the work they've been putting in without seeing results. For one night at least, they got to breathe a sigh of relief because the goose egg in the win column has finally turned into a 1.
The best part about it, captain Bryce Salvador said, is they earned it by playing the way they want to play and believe they can play all the time.
"It's a nice one to get, the first one," Henrique said. "You can take a little bit of a breath. Now we have to build off this."
DeBoer said he doesn't think the injury to Brunner is serious, but he could not provide a further update.
Brunner, who is tied for the team lead with three goals, did not play because of what the team described as upper-body soreness. He was scheduled to play before leaving the morning skate early. He appeared to be clutching at his shoulder.
New Jersey plays again Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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