Given their lack of recent success against Martin Brodeur, the New York Rangers might be relieved to be playing the New Jersey Devils for the final time this season.
The Atlantic Division rivals close out a home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden, with Brodeur trying to record his career-high 38th victory over the Rangers.
New York (29-26-5) solved Brodeur twice earlier this season, beating him seven times in 53 shots en route to a pair of home wins in the first two games between the teams. But the veteran netminder - who has had unbeaten streaks of 23 and 11 games against the Rangers in building a 37-15-1 record with 15 ties against them in his storied career - has rebounded to allow just six goals in the last five meetings while posting a 4-0-1 record.
Brodeur made 35 saves Tuesday as the Devils (37-17-6) recorded a 2-1 home victory. He made 12 stops in the third period, and Zach Parise scored the go-ahead goal with 7:54 remaining.
Parise has three goals in his last four games.
The 34-year-old Brodeur - who also has 37 wins against the New York Islanders - was part of a second-period incident in which he got into a shoving match with Rangers forward Sean Avery, who received a double minor for knocking the goalie to the ice. Brodeur, though, simply shrugged it off as part of the game.
"Guys crash the net all the time," said Brodeur, who has seven shutouts and a 2.07 goals-against average lifetime versus the Rangers. "It's part of the normal battle. I get into it. I'm a big guy and I've played a long time. I'm not going to get rattled too much."
For his part, Avery is perfectly willing to try and goad Brodeur again if it helps his team score goals.
"I don't complain about that stuff. I know what I bring and I'm never going to get the benefit of the doubt. He's a good goalie. You've got to get in front of him. That's how you score goals."
The Rangers will again be without leading goal-scorer Brendan Shanahan, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after missing the last two games due to a concussion suffered Saturday in a collision with Philadelphia Flyers right wing Mike Knuble. To replace Shanahan, New York recalled veteran Brad Isbister from Hartford of the AHL, where he had 14 goals and 13 assists in 42 games.
New York is in 11th place in the East, but only four points behind Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Rangers have two games in hand on the Hurricanes.
New Jersey also may be missing a key offensive player. Brian Gionta - who leads the Devils with 24 goals - missed his third consecutive game Tuesday with a groin injury, and his status for this contest is uncertain.