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Devils' Matteau excited to face Rangers at Garden

by Mike G. Morreale /

DEVILS (32-33-13) at RANGERS (49-21-7)


NEW YORK -- Left wing Stefan Matteau will play his first NHL regular-season game in the arena where his father became famous when the New Jersey Devils face off against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Matteau, who did play at the Garden in a preseason game in September, is looking forward to the opportunity. His dad, Stephane Matteau, broke the hearts of Devils fans in the second overtime of Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Final.

"I grew up from 10, 11 on always dreaming about playing there and it's still my favorite city, favorite building and it's, obviously, special to play there," Stefan Matteau said.

It remains to be seen if Stephane, who works for the Rangers as an alumni member of community relations, will attend the game because of an earlier commitment.

Matteau scored his second NHL goal and first goal in four games this season, took two shots on goal and had three hits in a 3-2 shootout victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday. He seemed to form good chemistry alongside center Travis Zajac and right wing Mike Cammalleri.

"I'm just finishing my hits and beating guys to the net and being strong on pucks," Matteau said. "Just being a power forward."

Devils interim co-coach Lou Lamoriello would like to see more of that from Matteau.

"He has to use his size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and strength," Lamoriello said. "He's a big boy. He has to get in the corners. He has to finish checks and go to the front of the net. And he has to do that on a consistent basis. He's not a finesse player, nor will he be, but he has skills."

Matteau was three months old when his father wrapped home the historic goal against Martin Brodeur at Madison Square Garden. Lamoriello made certain that the younger Matteau wouldn't be duplicating that effort down the road when he drafted Stefan with the No. 29 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Matteau is the first to admit, however, that he doesn't play the same style his father once did.

"Growing up, I did get to watch him … he was a hard-working, physical guy who played with an edge," he said. "It's weird to say this because he played 15 years, but I think I'm more offensive than he was. Dad told me I'm bigger and more skilled … that's what he said."

The Rangers have won three of their past four games and are one win shy of 50 for the fourth time in franchise history. They are first in the Eastern Conference with 105 points, one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and three ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Devils have been eliminated from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a third straight season.

Devils starting goaltender Cory Schneider is 0-1-1 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .885 save-percentage in two games against the Rangers this season. Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist is 2-0-0 with a 1.96 GAA and .922 save percentage against the Devils in 2014-15.

The Devils and Rangers will play the fourth game of the season series on Tuesday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Here are the projected lineups:


Reid Boucher - Scott Gomez - Steve Bernier

Stefan Matteau - Travis Zajac - Mike Cammalleri

Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus

Tuomo Ruutu - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Mark Fraser - Damon Severson

Jon Merrill - Eric Gelinas

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Martin Havlat, Michael Ryder, Peter Harrold

Injured: Bryce Salvador (back), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Stephen Gionta (lower body)


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - J.T. Miller

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: James Sheppard

Injured: Kevin Klein (arm)

Status report: Gomez was fined the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement for his elbowing major on Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin in the second period of the game Friday. … The Devils did not hold a morning skate; the Rangers skated at the MSG Training Facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. … Sheppard, who will be a healthy scratch for a second straight game, will play at some point before the start of the playoffs, coach Alain Vigneault said, according to Newsday. … Klein has been skating on his own and will have x-rays taken later this week.

Who's hot: Larsson has two goals and 20 points in 38 games since Jan. 3. … Kreider has four goals and seven points in his past seven games. Miller has three goals and seven points in his past eight games.


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