Mired in a three-game losing streak, Brendan Shanahan
believed there was no team he and the New York Rangers
would rather play than the New Jersey Devils
But the Devils had won nine in a row and showed no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist
was coming off a performance on Thursday night that saw him get pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots during a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs
This time around, though, Lundqvist was on his game. He stopped all 17 shots he faced, and Shanahan broke a scoreless tie 30 seconds into overtime in a thrilling 1-0 win over New Jersey at Madison Square Garden ( 700K
“I think it was kind of a good thing for us that it was not only the Devils, but the Devils on a winning streak,” Shanahan said. It kind of brings out the best in you.”
It certainly brought out the best in Lundqvist, who recorded his fifth shutout of the season and improved to 4-0 against New Jersey. He faced only four shots in both the first and third periods, as the Rangers’ defense stifled the Devils all day long and rarely allowed them to get through the neutral zone with control of the puck.
New Jersey’s best chance may have come less than 20 seconds into the first period, when Lundqvist denied Zach Parise
’s one-timer ( 700K
). The Devils didn’t register another shot on goal for roughly 12 minutes.
''You wish that would change the face of the game if that one goes in, but it didn't,'' Parise said.
''We didn't enough shots on net and we didn't test him enough.''
For Lundqvist, the juices were flowing right from the get-go. While the Rangers’ netminder would have been pumped to redeem himself anyway after Thursday’s performance, the fact that he was facing Martin Brodeur
and the Devils only added fuel to the fire. With the shutout, Lundqvist’s GAA dropped to 1.94.
“I was thinking, 'Get pumped up for this game,' and it's not hard to get that feeling going out there to play against the Devils and play against Marty,” Lundqvist said. “After the first period I felt like I was back.''
That being said, there were some nerves in such a tight contest. Lundqvist received a team effort in front of him, as Martin Straka
blocked three shots during a New Jersey power play in the second period.
''That's what you have to do, you have to block shots,'' Straka said. ''I didn't try to do anything. I just tried to line up with the guy.''
New York was outscored by a margin of 14-4 during its three-game slide that featured losses against Carolina, Toronto and Atlanta. While the Rangers’ offense continued to have problems finding the back of the net, the defensive effort was much better against the Devils.
“I think we played great,” Lundqvist said. “We didn’t really want to give up anything, and they were playing the same way. It’s kind of a scary game to play, but it was a big game for us.”
Shanahan’s goal in overtime was the lone shot of the extra session for either club. The veteran forward positioned himself in the slot and took a pretty feed from Scott Gomez
before blasting a one-timer past Brodeur for the game-winner.
“It takes a lot of practice,” Shanahan said of the one-timer. “The one thing I try to do when I am in practice is shoot good passes, bad passes, because that’s what you face in the game. If you practice it enough, you get comfortable in the game.”
Despite the firepower they possess up front, the Rangers seemed to be comfortable playing a tight, defensive game on Sunday. Shanahan believes the Blueshirts have taken great strides in the character department as compared to a season ago.
“There were some moments on the bench in the second period where frustration was starting to creep in,” Shanahan admitted. “I’d say that maybe a year ago, our team wouldn’t have been comfortable in a 0-0 game so late. But that was then and this is now. We’re comfortable in those situations.”
Unquestionably, the Rangers feel cozy when New Jersey is sharing the ice. New York is now 4-0 against New Jersey this season, marking its longest winning streak against the Devils in more than a decade.
"It's just one of those things this year, we've had their number, so far," Shanahan said. "They've been a measuring stick for the teams in this division for many seasons, so it's nice to have had their number this season."
The Devils (16-10-3) will look to begin a new winning streak on Monday night when they visit the Washington Capitals
at the Verizon Center. New Jersey forward Patrik Elias
is confident that Sunday’s loss won’t have any lingering effects in the Devils’ locker room.
''We have to look at the positives,'' Elias said. ''We had something special going. To get a point in 10 games in a row that's great. We've just got to let it go.''
Material from wire services and team media were used in this report.