Martin Brodeur and the Devils won’t have to gear up for the Great Outdoors in this Battle of the Hudson.
There won’t be any glare, snow or frigid temperatures to contend with, and that’s just fine with Brodeur. He faces the Rangers for the first time since the Stadium Series when they visit Prudential Center on Saturday.
“When we play in a regular environment, we do well,” Brodeur said Friday. "We’re like indoor cats.”
The Devils were 3-0 against the Rangers heading into their Yankee Stadium showdown, having outscored them 11-5. Those fortunes changed in the Bronx, where Brodeur surrendered six goals in two periods and was relieved by Cory Schneider in a 7-3 loss.
The stakes are higher in this final regular-season meeting, with possible playoff hopes on the line.
“This one’s an important one, I guess, with the way the standings are shaping up to be,” Brodeur said. “They still have to play a game [Friday in Columbus], but for us, it’s the same story. It’s must-win games from here on out."
With 12 games to go, the objective is clear.
“We need to win,” Brodeur said. "We can’t afford to lose points especially when you play teams that you’re chasing. It’s even a lot more important."
The Devils snapped a three-game losing skid with Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over Minnesota. Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique each collected three assists, including the helpers on Andy Greene’s winner.
"I think if we can bring that game to the rink here over the next 12 games, I feel very good about our chances,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “That’s been the battle here the last two or three weeks, is finding that game. I think it was a clear message last night to our group that when we play that way, we have a chance to have success. It’s just replicating that 12 times here.”
Brodeur has beaten the Rangers twice this season, both times at Madison Square Garden. The last one came on Dec. 7, when the Devils rallied from down 2-0 before Eric Gelinas iced a 4-3 win in OT.
“It’s a good team,” Brodeur said. "I think it’s a team that we respect a lot, their skill and their offensive talent. I think it brings the best out of us to make sure we play the right way. We know they’re not going to give up free goals too often. I think it keeps our offense accountable in bearing down on chances that we have.”
Said DeBoer: "I’m glad we’re playing the Rangers. There’s no motivation needed when you play them, not that we need any right now with the situation we’re in. It’s the right opponent for us at the right time and we have to rise to the occasion."
• Ryan Carter (upper body, 3 games missed) skated in Friday’s limited practice and could be available Saturday.