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Devils-Rangers Preview @NHLdotcom
Devils-Rangers Preview

GAME: New Jersey Devils (25-18-5) at New York Rangers (27-14-7).

TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.

After a slow start, the New Jersey Devils are playing more like the team that averaged 45 wins over the last five seasons and won Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003.

The surging Devils pursue their 10th straight win as they head to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers.

Only one winning streak in New Jersey's history has run longer - a 13-game run from Feb. 26-March 23, 2001.

The Devils have enjoyed unbeaten streaks of 13 games four times with the most recent being a 10-0-3 surge early in the 2003-04 season.

The Devils struggled at the start of the current season, losing nine of their first 15 games and goaltender Martin Brodeur, the 2003-04 Vezina Trophy winner, had a 3.61 goals-against average in the Devils' 6-7-2 start

He has a 2.41 GAA en route to a 19-9-3 record since then.

Brodeur has been in goal for all nine games of the winning streak, recording three shutouts and a stellar 1.73 GAA as New Jersey has yet to lose in 2006.

It's so much fun in the locker room," New Jersey's Zach Parise said. "Guys enjoy coming to the rink and we're showing it on the ice. Everything is coming together for us."

Parise's goal in the fifth round of shootout action Saturday gave the Devils a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.

The Devils let a two-goal third-period lead slip away, but they won with Brodeur's solid play in the shootout. He allowed one goal in five shootout rounds and now has given up just three goals in 23 shootout attempts.

Patrik Elias has been a key contributor, contributing four goals and nine assists in eight games since returning from an extended bout with Hepatitis A.

Petr Sykora, acquired from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Jan. 8, faces his old team for the first time as a New York Ranger. He was on the top line with Elias and Jason Arnott when the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2000.

Sykora led the Rangers to a 3-2 shootout win Saturday over the Boston Bruins. He scored a goal in regulation - his third in six games since the trade - before delivering the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout.

Rangers coach Tom Renney nearly overlooked Sykora as the shootout rounds began piling up.

"I kind of forgot about him," Renney said with a smile. "He was at the other end of the bench."

Sykora's goal was only New York's second of the shootout. Rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist then stopped Boston's Brad Isbister on the final attempt and saved five of six shots.

Lundqvist has allowed only five goals in 28 shootout attempts. Among NHL goaltenders who have faced at least 10 attempts, Lundqvist's .821 save percentage trails only Brodeur's .870 mark.

STANDINGS: Devils - 55 points, 3rd place, 11 PB, Atlantic Division. Rangers - 61 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Brian Gionta, 28 goals and 49 points; Scott Gomez, 27 assists; Colin White, 51 PIM. Rangers - Jaromir Jagr, 29 goals, 41 assists and 70 points; Michal Rozsival, 56 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 17.5 percent (49 for 280), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (178 for 218), 18th. Rangers - Power play: 15.6 percent (42 for 269), 22nd. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (249 for 295), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (23-14-3, 3 SO, 2.67 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 0, 3.83). Rangers - Lundqvist (19-6-5, 2, 2.17); Kevin Weekes (8-8-2, 0, 3.11).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 20; Devils, 3-1. At New York, Gionta and Alexander Mogilny scored 16 seconds apart with a little more than five minutes remaining to get the Devils on the board.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 10-11-2 on the road; Rangers - 14-5-4 at home.

Associated Press
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