NEW YORK -- In a battle between one of the NHL's hottest offenses and one of its stingiest defenses, defense won out.
Dainius Zubrus scored late in the third period to break a tie, and Martin Brodeur made 33 saves when the New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
New Jersey forward Ryan Carter had his first two-goal game in more than three years. New York got goals from Marc Staal and Dan Girardi; Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves.
Facing a Rangers team that had scored 19 goals in its previous five games, the Devils put the defensive clamps on their rival despite being shorthanded on their blue line. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov was lost with 6:21 remaining in the first period after diving for a loose puck as Mats Zuccarello sped down the left wing. Volchenkov did not return after leaving with a lower-body injury.
Eric Gelinas momentarily left the Devils with four healthy defensemen after he was cut around the ear by a rising shot from Derek Dorsett in the third period. He left the bench but returned shortly thereafter.
"We did a good job of battling through there. You never want to see a fellow D-man go down, but it happens," Andy Greene said. "Everyone just picked up a bit more and stepped up their game."
Foremost among those defensemen was Peter Harrold, who led the Devils with a career-high 28:19 of ice time.
Overtime appeared to be in the offing after the Rangers tied it late, but Travis Zajac and Zubrus broke in on a 2-on-1. Zubrus' initial backhand was blocked by Girardi, but Zubrus followed up on his forehand and beat Lundqvist to give the Devils the lead with 2:55 remaining. The goal was Zubrus' third of the season and his first in 10 games.
"There was a guy backchecking. I couldn't really shoot right away, so I cut back in the middle and tried to take a backhand," Zubrus said. "It wasn't the greatest shot but the puck came right back to me. I didn't want to hold onto it too long and just got a shot off."
The odd-man rush started with a quick neutral-zone pass from Jaromir Jagr, whom Zubrus played with a decade ago with the Washington Capitals.
"He's played the right side his whole career. He knows what he's doing on that side," Zubrus said. "He gets the puck and he's as comfortable as anybody. He has the hockey sense and smarts to know where the other guys are."
The play was typical of a night when the Devils (6-7-5) halted a hot Rangers power play and made the most of their opportunities.
The Devils opened the scoring 6:37 into the second period with the Rangers (9-9-0) called for a delayed penalty. Carter rushed toward the net on his off-wing and fed a backhand pass toward the crease that deflected off J.T. Miller's skate before trickling into the far corner of the net to give the Devils a 1-0 lead and Carter his first goal of the season.
New York responded 18 seconds later. Zuccarello rushed behind the net before feeding Staal, whose slap shot beat Brodeur low for his second goal of the season and 100th career point. The goal snapped Brodeur's shutout streak at 192:26.
"It's a matter of getting it through and getting opportunities out of it," Staal said. "We ended up getting a couple down to the net that went in. A lot of them got blocked as well. They were stingy."
Carter's go-ahead goal late in the second was almost a carbon copy of his game-opening score. After Adam Larsson launched the puck down the ice, Carter beat Carl Hagelin in a race and headed to the net. His backhand from the right wing beat Lundqvist between the legs to give the Devils a 2-1 lead with 47 seconds left in the period. It was Carter's first multigoal game since April 11, 2010, when he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks.
"It's just a matter of running out of time and space. I wanted to get something on net. I was going to stop in front and bang away if there was something there, but it found a way directly in," Carter said. "Hockey is a funny game. You get Grade-A opportunities and they don't go in. Then all of a sudden you throw a piece of junk at the net and it finds its way in."
The Rangers' power play earned two prime opportunities to tie the game in the third period when Jacob Josefson was called for covering the puck at 5:02, and Jagr was whistled for holding with 9:55 remaining. New York failed to score 5-on-4, and its power play, 6-for-24 in the seven previous games, finished 0-for-5 with five shots.
Girardi scored his first goal of the season when his wrist shot from the point deflected to Brodeur's left and into the net to tie the game 2-2 with 6:42 to go. But the undermanned Devils found a way to overcome the momentum shift.
"We came back into the game and gave us a chance to win the game," Lundqvist said. "I had a good feeling, especially when we tied it up, but it's over and it was a tough one."
The win was the Devils' first at MSG in five tries and vaulted them within one point of the Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Brodeur, who has allowed four goals in his past five games, is leading their recent surge.
"Marty is Marty. Our goalies are the least of our worries," Zubrus said. "We're very fortunate to have that. They're going to do their thing and we know that."