NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers
had the New Jersey Devils
' number during the regular season and nothing has changed two games into the playoffs.
Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery scored 23 seconds apart in the third period, and Lundqvist made 26 saves in beating the Devils yet again in a 2-1 victory Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
"I don't think Game 1 and Game 2 were complete opposites," Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan said. "We improved in some areas. They improved in some areas. I don't think anything has been black and white in this series, so far. We've just been fortunate to find ways to get goals and to find ways to get wins."
The victory was the Rangers' ninth in 10 games against New Jersey this season, and it gave New York a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that will shift across the river for Game 3 on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Devils face a long road back after losing the first two games at home.
"They are definitely taking control of the series," goalie Martin Brodeur said. "We feel that we are not far away. A bounce here, a bounce there and it could have gone our way today. We have to keep our heads up and try to do to them what they did to us in their building."
The Rangers, who have never lost a best-of-seven series in which they have led 2-0, have gotten all the breaks in the series.
They won the opener 4-1 on Wednesday when Brodeur misplayed a puck in his own crease with the game tied 1-all in the third period. They took the lead in Game 2 after Devils defenseman Colin White nudged Brodeur while coming out from behind the net, giving Jagr the space to put the puck into the net off the goalie's back.
"Big time scorers will find a way to score goals," Brodeur said.
The Devils don't fit into that category. They have scored two goals in two playoff games and 11 in 10 games against Lundqvist this season.
"Obviously, you don't want to go down 3-0," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We understand what that means. We have to throw it all out there. We've been close in these games but we have to find that little extra to put us over the top."
New Jersey has lost four of the five series in which it fell behind 2-0. Its only comeback was in 1994 in the Eastern Conference semifinals after losing the first two games at home to Boston.
"We know we have to get better and that it doesn't take two games to win a series," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "We are working hard but we have to play smarter and stay positive. You have to go out, give your best and have fun."
John Madden scored for the Devils with 1:23 to play, deflecting Elias' slap shot between Lundqvist's pads with Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater.
Paul Martin had a chance to tie the game with 57 seconds to play, but Lundqvist made a good glove save through a crowd on his slap shot.
The Devils didn't have another good chance after Zach Parise was penalized, and they were hurt by two late calls by the officials, who made a mistake calling an icing against New Jersey while it was killing off a penalty.
Devils coach Brent Sutter later broke a stick over the bench after an apparent hooking penalty by Blair Betts of the Rangers was not called.
"It takes four games to win a series, and they have only won two," Sutter said.
Game 2 was similar to almost every other game between the teams this season. It was close until the third period, then the Rangers took over, taking 17 shots.
"Again, like a broken record, we played well for most of the game," Langenbrunner said. "One goes in that normally doesn't, and we have a mental lapse and they score again. We fought hard, showed some character to get one at the end but it was too little, too late."
Avery's goal came before the crowd had time to settle from Jagr's tally.
Scott Gomez, who had three assists in New York's 4-1 win in Game 1, won a faceoff. The puck went back to the point where Daniel Gerardi took a shot that deflected off Elias. The puck went to Avery, who slapped a shot over Brodeur's glove.
The first two periods were exactly what everyone predicted before the series started, scoreless, tight checking, a little chippy and dominated by the goaltenders.
There were five sets of coincidental penalties in the second period, including two scrums which resulted in two players from each team being sent off.
The last one started after Dainius Zubrus skate sprayed Lundqvist with snow in the crease.
As Brandon Dubinsky and Zubrus wrestled behind the net, Lundqvist casually slapped Zubrus on the back of the helmet and the organist played "Why Can't We Be Friends."
As for the hockey, the Devils had most of the good scoring chances.
Lundqvist stopped Elias and Langenbrunner twice in good chances in the first period and he made a nice stop of Martin on a power play point shot early in the second.
Notes: The game was delayed about 10 minutes in the first period Friday after a hard check jarred a penalty box door out of position. ... Including last year's sweep of Atlanta, the Rangers have won six straight first-round playoff games. ... Parise needed dental work after being hit in the mouth by a high stick by Rangers defenseman Christian Backman, who got a four-minute penalty.