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game recap

Zuccarello comes up big for Rangers in win against Devils

Scores twice, clears puck from crease to prevent New Jersey goal

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored two goals and prevented one to help the New York Rangers defeat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

The Rangers (16-11-2) have won 10 of their past 11 home games after losing six of their first eight (2-4-2). They are 13-4-0 in their past 17 games but remain one point out of a Stanley Cup Playoff position in the Eastern Conference in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division.

They are two points behind the Devils for third place and five points behind the first-place Columbus Blue Jackets.


[WATCH: All Devils vs. Rangers highlights]


"Every game right now is a big game," Zuccarello said. "It's a tight race. Even though we're only in December, it's a tough division and you need every point you can get."

Zuccarello scored his sixth and seventh goals to give him a Rangers-high 24 points. In addition, with the Rangers leading 1-0 in the second period, he cleared the puck off the goal line after Devils forward Brian Gibbons' shot hit goalie Henrik Lundqvist and trickled toward the net.

Rangers right wing Jesper Fast extended his goal-scoring streak to an NHL career-high three games, giving him six goals in the past eight games. He scored six goals in 68 games last season.

"He's like a hidden secret," Rangers forward Rick Nash said of Fast. "Not too many people around the League know about him, but he can do it all."

Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes scored for New York, and Lundqvist made 26 saves one night after he made 36 in a 4-2 loss at the Washington Capitals.

Video: NJD@NYR: Zuccarello finishes dish to notch his second

"We've built confidence over the last month after our rocky start," defenseman Marc Staal said of the Rangers, who were 3-7-2 to begin the season. "I feel like we believe we can win every game, and when you're going through a stretch like we are now before Christmas, that's important."

Devils coach John Hynes didn't hide his displeasure.

"You play soft and you play loose, you have no chance to win," Hynes said. "That was tonight's game. We were soft all over the ice. Too many soft individuals. We played a loose game, that's what happens. That's the game right there."

Damon Severson and Miles Wood scored for the Devils (16-9-4), who lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season (5-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday). Keith Kinkaid made 34 saves.

"I don't think we gave ourselves a chance at all," Kinkaid said. "You look at the turnovers we gave up and their penalty kill outworked our power play too."

Zuccarello's first goal, at 16:03 of the second period, came off a turnover at the end of a strong Rangers penalty kill.

Video: NJD@NYR: Vesey pots Carey's dish to open the scoring

Zuccarello stripped the puck from Severson at the Devils blue line as Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith was leaving the penalty box. Zuccarello went in alone on Kinkaid and beat him blocker side to give New York a 3-1 lead.

"The play should have never happened," Kinkaid said.

Severson's turnover came 2:18 after he beat Lundqvist with a high blocker-side slap shot from the top of the right circle to get the Devils within 2-1.

Fast, who was moved up to the second line from the fourth line at the start of the game, gave New York a 2-0 lead at 9:42 of the second. Vesey, who was replaced by Fast on the second line, scored off a turnover at 6:14 of the first period.

Zuccarello made it 4-1 at 6:21 of the third period. Wood scored 13 seconds later, but Hayes gave the Rangers their second three-goal lead with his sixth goal at 11:59.

"There were a lot of great efforts out there," Lundqvist said. "It feels good."

Video: NJD@NYR: Wood finishes Zacha's pass for quick answer


Goal of the game

Zuccarello's goal at 16:03 of the second period.

Video: NJD@NYR: Zuccarello forces turnover, wires in wrister


Save of the game

Lundqvist's save on Miles Wood at 2:40 of the second period.

Video: NJD@NYR: Lundqvist slides across to stone Wood


Highlight of the game

Zuccarello clearing the puck off the goal line at 6:15 of the second period.

Video: NJD@NYR: Zuccarello hustles to help out Lundqvist


They said it

"This is what we needed. That's the good part about this league, when you lose a game you don't have a lot of time to walk around and think about it. You just regroup and focus on the next one. You get a challenge right away. We played really well." -- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist


"We gave them a few too easy ones. We didn't get off to the start that we wanted, but the second period, we played pretty well. We created a lot, but we were down two in the third, we still have a chance there. We just couldn't get anything going." -- Devils defenseman Andy Greene

Need to know

Lundqvist needs four saves to become the 15th goalie in NHL history with 20,000. He moved into second place on the NHL list for most wins by a goalie with one team (419). He was tied with Tony Esposito (418, Chicago Blackhawks). Martin Brodeur had 688 wins with the Devils. … The Rangers have 10 wins in 11 home games for the first time since the 1982-83 season.


What's next

Devils: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-W, NHL.TV)

Rangers: Host the Dallas Stars on Monday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-SW, NHL.TV)


Video: Zuccarello, Lundqvist lift Rangers to 5-2 home win

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