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Improving Devils take another crack at Rangers

by Dave Lozo /
DEVILS (17-30-3) at RANGERS (29-20-4)


Last 10:
New Jersey 7-2-1; New York 4-5-1

Season series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the rivals. The Rangers won the first three matchups by a combined 9-2.

Big story: The Devils are 30th in the League standings, but there might not be a hotter team. The Devils are 7-1-1 in their last nine and have found their game since the return of coach Jacques Lemaire. The Rangers have been steady all season and they are getting healthier. After getting Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan back Tuesday, Vinny Prospal will make his season debut after having knee surgery in the offseason.

Team Scope:

Devils: Whether it's just the law of averages, some fortunate timing or the team starting to come together, the Devils are playing a better brand of hockey the past three weeks than they have all season. Dainius Zubrus' game-winning goal in the late stages of New Jersey's 2-1 win against Ottawa on Tuesday was just the latest example of the bounces starting to go the Devils' way.

Zubrus was looking to make a pass, but the puck deflected off a Senators defenseman and past goaltender Robin Lehner to get the Devils two more points.

"We're just playing the system well," said Nick Palmieri, who scored the Devils' other goal Tuesday. "We're really working hard in practice, working hard coming out as a unit instead of having guys stretching it out. It's paying off in games and we have more of a balanced attack coming into the zone."

Rangers: If facing the Penguins without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin wasn't good enough for the Rangers, they got back Dubinsky, their leading scorer, and Callahan, a do-everything forward.

It didn't matter, as the Rangers wasted a 2-0 lead before losing 4-3 in a shootout.

"I thought our game was good," coach John Tortorella said. "It was the first game back (from the All-Star break), I thought we played hard and we had the chances 14-5. We tied the game up and played a good (third) period. (Marc-Andre) Fleury just makes one more save than (Henrik Lundqvist)."

Who's hot:
Devils forward Patrik Elias has points in 8 of his last 9 games (5 goals, 6 assists). … The Rangers' Wojtek Wolski has 3 goals and 5 assists in 10 games since he was acquired in a trade from Phoenix.

Injury report:
Devils defenseman Matt Corrente (shoulder) is out 2-4 weeks. Defenseman Matt Taormina (ankle) is out indefinitely. … Forwards Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder) and Erik Christensen (knee) are about 10 days away from returning to the lineup.

Stat pack: The Rangers are 10-6-2 in their last 18 home games.

Puck drop: "It was a lucky bounce, but we'll take it. When you look at chances in shots and the way we played, we still earned it." -- Zubrus, on his game-winning goal Tuesday

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