|New York Rangers' forward Sean Avery celebrates teammate Marc Staal's first-NHL goal.|
For 50 seconds on Wednesday night, it looked like Brodeur might get No. 500. That’s how long the New Jersey Devils led — from the time Jamie Langenbrunner opened the scoring 35 seconds into the game ( 700K ) until New York’s Nigel Dawes tied it at 1:25 ( 700K ).
From that point on, the Rangers dominated play, getting second-period goals by Brandon Dubinsky and Jaromir Jagr and Mark Staal’s first NHL goal in the third for a 4-2 victory in their first visit to the Prudential Center.
“It's great for him to reach that, but not tonight,” said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who outplayed Brodeur and finished with 22 saves. “It was our win. We played a really good road game.''
Brodeur has now lost both attempts at win No. 500, a mark reached only by Patrick Roy, who holds the all-time record with 551. He was the losing goaltender in Saturday’s 2-1 road loss to the Islanders and will get his next chance in a rematch with the Isles at home on Friday.
The victory was the Rangers’ third in as many games with the Devils, the first time they’ve started 3-0-0 against their cross-river rivals since 1993-94, when they swept the six-game season series.
“He had so many good games against us,” Jagr said of Brodeur, who has a 38-17-17 career mark against New York but is 0-2-1 against them this season. “He loves to play against the Rangers. It's nice to get him back a little bit.
“I respect him so much. It's not easy to stay on top of your game for so many years.”
The Rangers controlled the tempo for long stretches and had better special-teams play, much to the dismay of Devils coach Brent Sutter.
“You have to get focused,” Sutter said. “At the end of the day, we didn't do enough here to win. We were unable to score on the power play and contribute. They were then able to score on the power play. I didn't think we really got going until eight or nine minutes into the third period. [Then] we were skating and putting pucks on net.”
Langenbrunner, who made his season debut after missing New Jersey’s first 17 games while recovering from sports hernia surgery, wasted little time making an impact by banging Johnny Oduya’s rebound past Lundqvist 35 seconds into the game. But Dawes, who scored twice against Brodeur in the Rangers’ 2-0 victory on Oct. 25, tied it on the next shift, carrying the puck down the left side on a two-on-one break and whipping a quick wrist shot through his legs.
Dubinsky, a rookie who has fit better with Jagr than free-agent acquisitions Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, put the Rangers ahead to stay 1:01 into the second period ( 700K ), knocking in Jagr’s rebound. Brodeur robbed Jagr and Fedor Tyutin later in the period. But Jagr scored the back-breaker with 33.4 seconds left in the period ( 700K ), swatting the puck between Brodeur and the right post after it bounced off the side of the net.
Staal, the Rangers’ top pick in the 2005 Draft, made it 4-1 at 4:13 of the third period ( 700K ) with a screened wrist shot from the left circle that caught the far corner.
“I grew up watching him, so getting it against him is a little added bonus,” Staal said of scoring against Brodeur.
Langenbrunner beat Lundqvist again when he backhanded a rebound past the fallen goaltender at 7:29 ( 700K ), energizing the Devils and giving their fans in the sellout crowd of 17,625 some hope. But Lundqvist made the save of the night when he got his left arm on Brian Gionta’s wrist shot to stop his shorthanded breakaway bid with 5:51 remaining ( 700K ).
“That was a huge save, a great save,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said. “There have been a number of times when we’ve needed him the most and he’s come up with saves like that in big situations.”
The Devils fell to 2-3-1 in a nine-game stretch of games against their Atlantic Division rivals, but didn’t look like the same team that beat the Penguins 3-2 in Pittsburgh on Monday with Kevin Weekes in goal.
“Right now we're a .500 team (7-9-2) — win one, lose one. It's not fun,” Brodeur said. “We had a great opportunity here with the Rangers in town to get over that hump. We just couldn't do it.”
He also maintains he’s doing nothing out of the ordinary as he tries to get the milestone victory.
''I just want to win,” he said. “There’s an emphasis that everyone puts on (500 wins), not me. I don't prepare differently.”