The New Jersey Devils can't seem to lose right now. But in three games this season against the New York Rangers, they haven't found a way to win.
The Devils will try to extend their winning streak to 10 games and finally beat their rivals as they play the Rangers, who are trying to avoid a four-game losing streak, on Sunday.
The Rangers (15-12-2) have allowed just three goals to New Jersey (16-10-2) in their three wins, including a 4-2 road victory Nov. 14 in the most recent meeting. New York's Nigel Dawes has three of his four goals this season against New Jersey, which closed last season with four straight wins over New York, including two by shootout.
Overall, four of the teams' last eight games against each other have gone to shootouts.
But the Devils appear to have found their rhythm after a subpar 7-10-2 start. New Jersey beat Washington 3-2 Friday for its ninth straight win, tying the third-longest run in franchise history. The Devils have won five straight on the road and allowed just 14 goals during the nine-game streak.
Goalie Martin Brodeur, whose 500th career victory triggered the winning streak, has started all nine games. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner started the season 5-10-1 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .892 save percentage, but has compiled a 1.53 GAA and .940 save percentage in the nine victories.
The offense has also awakened. After averaging just 2.2 goals in the first 19 games, the Devils have 3.4 per game in the last nine. Zach Parise has 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) over the span, while Brian Gionta has at least one point in eight of the nine games.
Gionta had an assist in Friday's victory as the Devils overcame sluggish play early to take a 2-0 first-period lead and hold off a third-period rally by the Capitals.
"We found a way to win," Devils coach Brent Sutter told the team's official Web site. "We played a team here that hadn't played in six days. Give our guys credit for fighting through and finding a way to win."
The Rangers have been doing just the opposite, thanks largely to some recent uncharacteristic defensive struggles. Before the recent swoon, New York had allowed fewer goals than any team in hockey.
But typically dominant goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed eight total goals in losses to Carolina and Toronto, and was pulled after the second period against the Maple Leafs.
Backup Stephen Valiquette didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on six shots in the third period of the 6-2 loss to Toronto, then conceding three goals on just 22 shots in a spot start for Lundqvist in a 4-2 loss to Atlanta Friday.
"I'm disappointed because I thought we played a very strong game," Valiquette said Friday. "Everyone hustled and played hard. We played much better than the last couple of games. ... Hockey is humbling sometimes."
Chris Drury scored his 200th career goal in the game, while defenseman Paul Mara returned after missing three games with a shoulder injury.
Scott Gomez, who signed as a free agent with the Rangers in the offseason after spending his first seven seasons with the Devils, has a team-high 22 points. Gomez had two assists in the most recent meeting and also scored a goal in the 2-1 shootout victory Nov. 3.
Devils forward Jay Pandolfo will miss his fifth straight game due to a groin injury.