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Devils looking for solid game at Garden

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Brodeur and the Devils seeking an MSG victory.

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Martin Brodeur knows the Rangers are coming off a tough loss and hopes the Devils can use that to their advantage.

New Jersey hasn't played since Saturday, when it beat Carolina, 2-0, for its first home victory of the season. The Devils want to stay on a roll against a New York club that had its seven-game win streak snapped with a 7-3 defeat by San Jose on Monday.

"It’s a fragile state for anybody," Brodeur said after Wednesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "When you win you feel good about yourself, and when you just lost, well, you want to come back with a big effort, so it goes two ways. We know they’re going to be charged to play a really good game and forget their last game.

"For us, it’s try to attack them and get them to a vulnerable position that maybe they have a sequel to the game before – hopefully. Every game is different. For us, we’re coming off a big win."

Head coach Jacques Lemaire returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time in his second stint behind the Devils bench. He expects a high-intensity showing.

"When you do play them, it's like Montreal was with Quebec or the Rangers are with Philly," Lemaire said Thursday. "Maybe a little more exciting to be a part of."

A regulation win would move the Devils (4-3-0) to within four points of the Rangers (7-2-0), who sit second in the Atlantic Division with 14.

"Especially when the two teams, they're close by and, for sure, they want to finish ahead of the other one," Lemaire said. "They want to prove they're the better team, so the intensity will be there every night. It doesn't matter if you're coming back from a road trip or whatever. Even if you're tired, everyone will find the energy to play hard."

New Jersey has had three days of practice since Saturday, but extended time off between games can pose a challenge. A streaking team wants an opportunity to play games and pile up the wins night after night.

"Once again, four days off in between, it’s kind of hard to keep rolling," Brodeur said. "Every time we start doing well, we get days off. Now we just have to continue it. We have two big opponents coming up in the Rangers and Pittsburgh. Good matchups."

To lead the Devils to their fifth win in the last six games, Brodeur will need to outduel Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers netminder has been a formidable opponent for Jersey's Team, which has won just four of its last 15 meetings with New York (4-8-3).

With Brodeur recovering from elbow surgery last season, the Devils got past the Rangers three times and finished even in the season series (3-3-0). Brodeur suffered a pair of regulation losses in his only two appearances versus New York in 2008-09, then came up short, 3-2, at Prudential Center on Oct. 5.

Since going 5-4-1 against Lundqvist over the two seasons following the 2005 lockout, Brodeur has one win in his last 11 meetings with the Rangers. He's eager to reverse that trend on Thursday.

"Lundqvist has been playing really well every time he plays against me, for whatever reason," Brodeur said. "Clemmer was in there last year and we were able to get to him. Hopefully we’ll do better this season."

Those few rough outings against the Devils' rival haven't fazed Brodeur, the NHL's all-time wins leader. With his next shutout, he will tie Terry Sawchuk for the League record (103). It took Sawchuk nearly two years to go from 102 shutouts (Mar. 14, 1968, LA at PHI) to 103 (Feb. 1, 1970, NYR vs. PIT), though it was only 23 games.

"It is what it is," Brodeur said. "I get up for the games; I’ve played some really, really good games against (Lundqvist). When we score zero, one or two goals a game, that’s what we’ve been doing the last three years against him, it’s tough to win hockey games. We just have to keep going. Through the years, it shows how the domination goes from one side, goes to the other side and comes back. Hopefully we’ll turn it around."

Devils forward Brian Rolston knows any game against the Rangers is a big one.

"We've had a few days off here, and we want to continue on a winning track," Rolston said after Thursday's morning skate in Newark. "The Rangers are obviously on fire right now, and it's going to be a tough game, as always. It's always a great rivalry."

The Devils have spent much of the week focusing on improving their power play, which is stuck in an 0-for-15 slump over the last three games.

"Special teams are so big," Rolston said. "As a team, we're going to have to be better. Our power play has got to score goals for us because that's how you win hockey games. We understand that and it's something we've been working on for the last few days. We'll get there on the power play."

The first loss to New York came in the Devils second game of the regular season. But four wins in the last five games suggests they are more comfortable with Lemaire's gameplan.

"There's a lot of areas that we've been concentrating on the last four days in practice, a good four days to help us get to the point where Jacques wants us to be with our system," Rolston said. "I wouldn't say anything about the first game (with the Rangers) or anything like that. I think we're continuing to grow as a team and get better as a team and that's what's important right now."

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