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New Jersey Devils win slugfest over New York Rangers, 8-5 @NHLdotcom

NEWARK, N.J. - Patrik Elias made his voice heard loudly when the New Jersey Devils let a big lead get away, and then spoke volumes by pumping in the winning goal moments later.

Elias scored with 8:31 left to rescue the Devils, who squandered a four-goal edge yet managed to finally beat the New York Rangers, 8-5 on Friday night.

Just 11 seconds after Ryan Callahan got the Rangers even at 5, Elias put the Devils in front again. Brian Gionta built the lead up to two 1:35 later and gave New Jersey its first regular-season win over the Rangers in 12 tries.

The Devils' second onslaught culminated with Jamie Langenbrunner's goal with 4:53 remaining, capping a spurt in which they scored three times in 3:38.

"We got the momentum on our side," Elias said. "Every line right after the goal kept going. And we got another one and another one.

"It was a very awkward game. We don't want that to happen very often."

New Jersey appeared to have things in hand with a three-goal second period that created a 5-1 lead. The Devils stormed in front by taking advantage of the Rangers' putrid power play that generated two short-handed goals for New Jersey and nothing for New York in nine opportunities.

Travis Zajac scored twice, Gionta had a goal and three assists, Dainius Zubrus and Elias both added a goal and two assists, Langenbrunner had one of each, and Zach Parise set up four goals in the Devils' highest-scoring game this season.

"If I wasn't bald before, I'm really bald now," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "We played well. We did a lot of good things here."

Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and three assists for the Rangers.

In a bizarre game that looked nothing like most matchups between the cross-river rivals, New Jersey finally figured out goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who absorbed all the punishment.

The Devils stretched their winning streak to four, all against teams with better records, with offence. They had yielded only four goals in the previous three wins. New Jersey closed within six points of the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers, but this game surprisingly hung in the balance.

"What we didn't do right at that time was we just didn't control the puck enough," Elias said. "When you have a four-goal lead, you have to control it even more than ever.

"There were mixed emotions. Some guys were louder than the other ones. Some guys were just trying to calm everybody down."

New York lost for the fourth time in six games and has been outscored 25-12. Lundqvist had never allowed more than three goals to the Devils, and in 11 starts against them before Friday, he had a 1.24 goals-against average and two shutouts.

"It was great for us to get to him early," Parise said. "We got the feeling that we can score on him. After a while when you're scoring one or two goals against him, it gets a little frustrating. So it was nice to have that little explosion."

Rangers coach Tom Renney said he wouldn't be uncomfortable going back to Lundqvist for Saturday's home game against Carolina, but would take the night to think about it.

"I have to get it going. I have to try to work even harder and be better," Lundqvist said. "It's not a good feeling to sit here after a game like this. ... It starts with me. I know deep inside I have to play better."

With injured Devils goalie Martin Brodeur watching, Scott Clemmensen made his first start against the Rangers since a shootout loss on Nov. 5, 2005. Clemmensen had gone 7-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average in eight starts before this wild night.

The Rangers outshot the Devils 36-34 in a game that featured four fights, including bouts in each of the three periods.

New York had been 9-0-2 in the 11 previous meetings and had outscored New Jersey 9-3 in two wins this season.

After falling behind 5-1, the Rangers rallied to get within a goal when Paul Mara scored just 1:28 into the third. Callahan gave New York brief hope when he tied it, but the Devils quickly snuffed that out.

The Rangers have scored only once in their past 29 power-play chances and have given up an NHL-worst 10 short-handed goals this season. New York has scored just 21 times with the advantage this season.

"It's kind of hard to explain," Rangers forward Scott Gomez said. "It's something that can't happen and it's costing us."

Jay Pandolfo gave the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first period with a short-handed goal, and Zajac added a power-play tally in the frame. New Jersey broke it open in the second, including even-strength scores by Zajac and Dainius Zubrus, and another short-handed strike from Johnny Oduya.

After entering the second period down only 2-1, the Rangers staged a late rally to get within 5-3. Zherdev had a goal and assist 2:36 apart - setting up Gomez's goal at 18:22 of the second after Gomez assisted on his tally. Markus Naslund had gotten the Rangers even at 1 in the first.

Notes: The Devils and Rangers hadn't combined for 13 goals since Dec. 23, 1986. ... Lundqvist has lost four of five starts. ... Zajac's previous two-goal game came on Oct. 17, 2007.

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