NEW YORK -- A little bit of luck and a lot of Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise went a long way for the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
A fluky goal from Dainius Zubrus, two goals and an assist from Parise and 29 saves by Brodeur helped the Devils to a 4-2 victory against Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The win was New Jersey's fifth in its past six games, while the loss was New York's second straight after winning seven in a row.
The score was 2-2 with just over 12 minutes left in the third period when Parise picked off a clearing attempt by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi
and flung a soft shot toward goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
. The shot probably wouldn't have dented a paper plate, but Zubrus got a piece of it -- enough to squeeze the puck through Lundqvist at 7:51 and leave Devils coach Jacques Lemaire shaking his head in amusement.
"It was a lucky goal," Lemaire said.
Even Parise wasn't sure how the puck found the back of the net.
"I saw that (Girardi) was rimming the puck and I just wanted to throw it towards (the net) and Zubi tipped it and I don't even know where it went -- five-hole, far-side," Parise said. "I kind of whiffed on it myself. He got just enough of it to sneak it through Lundqvist's legs."
Lundqvist wasn't happy with himself on the game-winner.
"I think I cheated too much," he said. "I don't know what happened, it bounced a couple of times. It is just a really bad goal, unfortunately at the wrong time."
Brodeur made the big saves at the right time, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the third period to make sure Zubrus' goal would hold up before Parise hit the empty net with 40.2 seconds left to beat Lundqvist in regulation for the first time in 12 tries at the Garden. The future Hall of Famer entered the night just one shutout away from tying the all-time mark of 103 held by Terry Sawchuk, but he was only able to keep the Rangers scoreless for a little more than 21 minutes.
Did the idea that he could get the record-tying shutout at the Garden -- where he's never had one -- come into his head after the Devils grabbed a 2-0 lead?
"Not really," Brodeur said with a laugh. "I never really think about shutouts 'til there's a couple minutes left and I see people getting excited about it. I just play my game. If I win 6-5, I win 6-5. If it's 1-0, it's 1-0. Who cares? It's all about winning. The record will happen eventually hopefully. We just gotta keep playing well and we'll be all right."
After Zubrus' goal, the Rangers had a chance to tie the game in the final minutes of the third period when Ryan Callahan got behind the defense and had a clear lane to Brodeur. But a diving play from behind by Colin White knocked the puck away and spoiled a golden opportunity.
"It was a great play," Brodeur said. "They did that a lot tonight, they tried to split our D. I was ready for a breakaway. The defense broke up a few of them today."
The Devils, now 4-0-0 on the road, went into the first intermission leading 2-0 on the strength of Parise's first goal of the night and Nicklas Bergfors' first of the season. But the lead evaporated in the second period thanks to goals from Marian Gaborik and Ales Kotalik, their seventh and fourth of the season, respectively.
Parise had an explanation for the Devils' second-period lull after a very strong first period.
"I think we were a little more aggressive in the first," he said. "We weren't turning the puck over in the neutral zone. We were getting it behind their D. In the second, we kind of got away from that a little bit. But in the third we got that going again so we were able to create more scoring chances."
Rangers coach John Tortorella was upset with the first-period goal that saw Parise sneak behind Girardi and take a pass to score on a breakaway. Parise snapped the puck over Lundqvist's glove to make it 1-0 just 6:11 into the game. A neutral-zone turnover nine minutes later led to the goal by Bergfors at 15:10.
But Tortorella was happy with the way his team responded.
"I thought we stood up pretty good here tonight, being down 2-0," he said. "Third period, I thought we were playing well. A kind of funny goal goes in on us and we are just not able to score the next one. This is when you start finding out about your club, when you go through situations like this.
"I am not disappointed in the team as far as how they played. I thought they made some good plays. We made some bonehead plays that cost us but I like the way we battled back."
The Rangers outshot the Devils 24-17 over the final two periods, took just one minor penalty and went 1-for-3 on the power play. It wasn't enough.
"We did a good job to come back," Kotalik said. "The third goal was lucky for them. It was a lucky bounce. Against a team like New Jersey, it's tough to come back."
-- Dave Lozo, NHL.com