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Old rivals face off as Devils challenge Rangers

by Dave Lozo
DEVILS (31-11-1) at RANGERS (22-17-6)

Last 10: New Jersey 7-3-0; New York 6-1-3.

Season Series:
This is the third of six meetings. The Rangers won the opener in New Jersey 3-2 on Oct. 6, while the Devils returned the favor, 4-2, on Oct. 22 at Madison Square Garden.

Big Story: It's two rivals who don't enjoy each other all that much, and both teams are playing well right now. Between the two, they have just four regulation losses in their last 25 games.

Team Scope:

Devils: While it's not quite their fourth game in five nights, they will taking the ice for the fourth time in five nights.

Friday's game with Tampa Bay had to be suspended due to a lighting malfunction. Saturday the Devils traveled to Montreal and played a full game there. Sunday, the Devils resumed the last half of their game with Tampa Bay. After an off day Monday, it's right back to work against a team that's clicking right now.

"That'll be three good periods," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "That'll be a good game. They're playing probably their best hockey right now. It will be a good challenge for our club."

As evidenced by their record in their last 10 games, the Rangers are certainly playing better. But the offense still hasn't been consistent, scoring more than three goals just twice in 11 games.

One of those players struggling to score is defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who broke a 22-game goal drought in New York's 3-1 win in Boston on Saturday.

"I'm not one to talk about it, but (the drought) is frustrating, especially with the power play not clicking right now," Del Zotto said. "It definitely feels great to get one. I think I can get some confidence now. As the game went on I felt better with the puck, surprisingly. It just mentally helps you out."

Who's Hot:
Devils center Travis Zajac has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 3 games, and he's gotten exactly 1 goal and 1 assist in each contest. Zach Parise also has goals in three straight.

For the Rangers, center Erik Christensen has just 3 goals and 4 assists this season, but they've all come in the last six games after he failed to register a point in his first 17 games of the season with the Rangers and Anaheim Ducks.

Injury Report:
The Devils continue to be without the services of defenseman Paul Martin (arm), right wing David Clarkson (knee) and center Dainius Zubrus (leg).

Rangers center Vinny Prospal (knee) will return to the lineup Tuesday after missing seven games.

Stat Pack:
Parise reached the 20-goal plateau with a late score Sunday. He has put up more than 30 goals in each of the past three seasons and is coming off his career high of 45 in 2008-09. … Henrik Lundqvist had a stretch of 17 consecutive starts broken when he sat against Atlanta last Thursday, but he was right back in goal against Boston.

Puck Drop:
"We had a lot of talks after the Flyer game about keeping the puck moving forward, about forechecking with support and different strategies, but really, the biggest thing we realized is that losing little battles for the puck adds up to losing two points." -- Rangers captain Chris Drury, on why the team has gone 4-0-2 since a 6-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

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