's time as the starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils
appears to be running short. But as Martin Brodeur
draws closer to his return, the career backup and minor-leaguer created one more shining moment Monday night.
Clemmensen stopped 27 shots for his first NHL shutout in nearly five years, and Zach Parise
moved into a tie for third in the goal-scoring race by collecting a pair as the Devils beat the cross-river rival New York Rangers
3-0 at the Prudential Center.
''It's been a long time,'' Clemmensen said. ''Obviously I haven't played that many games ... but it was nice to get.''
opened the scoring, off an assist by Brendan Shanahan
, and the Devils won their third straight against the Blueshirts following a stretch where they had dropped 13 out of 15 regular-season and playoff games to New York.
''It was like, 'Oh my God,' the Rangers were coming in and everyone was all uptight,'' Parise said of last season. ''This year we're more concerned about how we're playing.''
Hours after Brodeur skated with the team for the first time since suffering a torn biceps in a Nov. 1 game against Atlanta, Clemmensen went out and showed why the Devils have been able to climb into the Atlantic Division lead despite being without their franchise goalie for 44 games now and counting.
He improved to 3-0 this season against the Rangers, becoming the first Devils goalie other than Brodeur to blank them since Sean Burke
on Oct. 10, 1988. Clemmensen picked up his third career shutout and first since Mar. 26, 2004, against the Thrashers.
''Most important is the way we won,'' Clemmensen said. ''Hopefully we carry that into next game because it's easy to get up and get excited about the Rangers.''
His counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist
, turned in a strong, 28-save performance, but couldn't prevent the Rangers from dropping their season-high fifth in a row. They fell eight points behind the Devils in the Atlantic and retained a tenuous hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
''Right now, we're in a tough spot,'' Lundqvist said. ''We need everybody to step up, starting with me. I have to play the best that I can.''
The Rangers' best chance to take control in the game came during a scoreless first period in which the Devils provided them four power-play opportunities. But New Jersey still enjoyed a 13-7 advantage in shots while killing each of the minor penalties, and a pair of ex-Blueshirts teamed up for the first goal eight minutes into the second.
Shanahan, who called Madison Square Garden home the past two seasons but was signed by the Devils last month after the Rangers didn't invite him back, fed a pass from behind the net and Holik shoveled it between Lundqvist's pads for a 1-0 lead. The center who left New Jersey in 2002 for a pair of seasons in the Big Apple notched his fourth goal since returning to the Devils this past offseason.
"I really can't stress enough the focus in that dressing room," said Shanahan, who has five points in nine games back with the team that drafted him in 1987. "It's really not about side stories, it's about getting the win and getting the two points."
received a holding penalty 22 seconds after Holik scored, and the Devils quickly turned that into a power-play goal and a 2-0 lead. Jamie Langenbrunner
held the puck in at the blue line and his drive deflected around in front. Travis Zajac
knocked it over to Parise at the left side and he sent it into the open portion of the net at the 9:27 mark.
The Devils protected the two-goal lead over the final half of the game, finally getting the put-away score when the Rangers pulled Lundqvist for an extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining and Parise hit the empty net with 1:43 left. His 32nd goal of the season tied him with the injured Thomas Vanek
of Buffalo, behind only Alex Ovechkin
and Jeff Carter
in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
New Jersey, winners of seven straight on the road, ended a two-game home losing streak which featured a lackluster effort in a 3-1 defeat against Los Angeles on Saturday.
"I don't think we were happy with our performance last game and I think playing a division rival brings out the best in you," Shanahan said. "We were certainly sharp on the road. We brought that game at home tonight."
New York tightened up defensively coming off a 10-2 rout by Dallas on Friday, but failed once again to gain two points thanks in large part to an offense that is tied for last in the League with Ottawa in goals per game.
"I don't think we were happy with our performance last game and I think playing a division rival brings out the best in you. We were certainly sharp on the road. We brought that game at home tonight." -- Brendan Shanahan
''We've got to score goals,'' forward Scott Gomez
said. ''It starts with me. I'm looked upon to create offense and score and I'm just not doing my job. We've got to find a way, whatever it takes.''
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.