NEW YORK - The Rangers rely on Henrik Lundqvist to lock things down on defence. They just never counted on Nigel Dawes to supply all the offence.
Lundqvist made 22 saves in his second shutout in three games, and Dawes broke New York out of its scoring slump with two goals Thursday night to lift the Rangers to a 2-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Dawes scored his first in the opening minute and then took the tension away with 3:53 left as the Rangers shook off consecutive 1-0 defeats and ended a four-game losing streak.
"Just keep shooting," said Dawes, who has three NHL goals in 12 career games. "I didn't think quick (goal), but we definitely wanted a good start."
It was almost the third straight 1-0 decision for the Rangers (3-5-1). Lundqvist, who has started all nine games, earned a shutout Saturday in a shootout loss at Boston and took a tough defeat in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
The Rangers are programmed to think defence first and have allowed one regulation goal in three games. Getting some to go in at the other end proved to be a nice change of pace.
New York is playing without injured forwards Martin Straka, Sean Avery, and Ryan Callahan, and were forced to move defenceman Jason Strudwick up to the fourth line against the Devils.
"I like the way the team is playing right now," Lundqvist said after his ninth NHL shutout. "We just have to score a little bit more.
"I know we might not score that much, so I have to keep focused and play a very good game to get the win."
Scott Gomez didn't get on the scoresheet in his first game against the Devils after seven seasons with New Jersey, but stressed the greater importance of earning a victory.
"I grew up with half those guys," the 27-year-old centre said. "It's just weird to see the red and black and going against it."
Gomez hinted that some ex-teammates talked to him on the ice, but didn't go into detail.
"I probably can't say because there are kids watching," Gomez said. "If this was HBO it might be different."
The Rangers didn't give their fans a chance to get frustrated at the start of a six-game homestand after a 0-2-1 road trip that produced only three goals.
Dawes struck just 57 seconds in after a poor decision by former Rangers defenceman Karel Rachunek, who sent the puck toward his bench while New Jersey changed defencemen. Andy Greene jumped on, then hopped over the boards when the puck arrived as Johnny Oduya came off.
To avoid a penalty for too many men, neither player went for the puck. That allowed Brendan Shanahan to corral it and send a pass to Dawes, who beat Martin Brodeur with a wrist shot.
"It was terrible. A terrible mistake to make in any kind of hockey game," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "Your mind-set is to come in here and win the game 1-0, not to lose it. And the way you use lose the game ... a bad, bad mistake."
That snapped the Rangers' drought at 126 minutes, dating to last Thursday's 5-3 loss at Atlanta. It was also their first tally at even strength in 182:06, stretching to a 3-1 home loss against Ottawa on Oct. 13 that started the skid.
Brodeur, playing for the first time in a week after a rare game off, was sharp in making 29 saves. The Devils finished their season-starting, nine-game road trip 3-5-1 - including three shutout losses - and will open their new arena in Newark, N.J., on Saturday against Ottawa.
"We did some good things but we also made the same mistakes in the first eight games so we have to correct those and go from there," forward John Madden said.
New York (3-5-1) has scored 15 goals in nine games and allowed 17.
The Devils nearly got even in the second period when Travis Zajac deflected a shot off the right post during a delayed penalty call. The puck caromed off the pipe, hit the back of Lundqvist's right leg, and fell behind him - tantalizingly close to the goal line before it was swept away by defenceman Michal Rozsival.
New Jersey failed on two power-play chances in the second period, but nearly yielded a short-handed goal when Marcel Hossa sent Chris Drury on a breakaway. His backhander was knocked aside by Brodeur.
Notes: Brodeur has played in 69 of 71 Devils games against the Rangers, dating to Dec. 26, 1993. ... New York D Thomas Pock cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hartford.