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Rangers 4, Devils 2 @NHL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The resurgent New York Rangers have quickly earned the New Jersey Devils' respect.

Jaromir Jagr scored his NHL-leading 13th and 14th goals of the season and Michael Nylander also had two goals to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Devils on Thursday night. The Atlantic Division-leading Rangers have beaten the Devils twice in a season for the first time since 1996-97.

``Now it's our turn to step it up,'' Devils forward Scott Gomez said. ``People have to realize it's not the same Rangers we've known. Everyone put these guys down, saying they would only win 10 games. Right now, they're showing everyone.''

Kevin Weekes played a major role for the Rangers, making 30 saves in his first appearance since giving up three goals on the first three shots in the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Oct. 20.

``Starting from scratch is a little bit challenging,'' Weekes said. ``Confidence isn't as much of an issue as getting repetitions and getting into game situations. The only way to feel comfortable in games is to play in them.''

Weekes could get another opportunity Saturday afternoon in Madison Square Garden when the teams complete the home-and-home series.

``It wasn't easy for him,'' Jagr said. ``He wanted to prove he's a great goaltender. Now we have confidence when he's in the nets that we can win.''

Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Gionta scored for New Jersey, and Scott Clemmensen made 21 saves in his fourth straight start while Martin Brodeur recovers from a sprained right knee. The game ended Brodeur's streak of 68 consecutive starts, including the playoffs, against the Rangers.

Clemmensen wants another crack at the Rangers on Saturday.

``I would like to play as much as I can,'' Clemmensen said. ``I'd like to get another shot at these guys, especially after losing tonight. I'm obviously ready to play any one but I'd love to play them again.''

Goals by Nylander and Jagr 47 seconds apart in the first period wiped out the early lead Langenbrunner gave the Devils with an unassisted short-handed goal at 4:06. Langenbrunner intercepted a pass between Fedor Tyutin and Jagr and sped down the right wing to fire a shot past Weekes' glove.

Less than a minute later, the Devils got a five-on-three power play for almost two minutes but failed to increase the lead despite several good chances. Viktor Kozlov flubbed the best opportunity when he missed a wide-open net.

Nylander tied it at 14:05, taking a return pass from Martin Straka and jamming a shot from just outside the crease past Clemmensen on a power play.

On Jagr's goal, Ville Nieminen flipped the puck into the Devils' zone. Jagr knocked the bouncing puck away from defenseman Richard Matvichuk and poked a shot past Clemmensen to extend his points streak to 11 games.

Nylander struck again with the only goal of the second period at 9:22. Jagr, stationed behind the Devils' net, fed a centering pass to the slot that popped in the air. Nylander batted the puck down before swatting it past Clemmensen to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

In the third, Gionta scored a power-play goal at 9:19 to trim the Rangers' lead to one. Paul Martin's point shot sailed high onto the glass and rebounded into the slot, where Gionta batted it past Weekes.

Gionta came close to scoring the equalizer on a feed from Alexander Mogilny about three minutes later, but Weekes held his ground to make a point-blank stop.

Jagr sealed the win with an empty-net score with 17.8 seconds remaining.

Notes: Devils C Pascal Rheaume cleared waivers and was assigned to Albany of the AHL. New Jersey recalled LW Tuomas Pihlman from Albany. ... Devils D Colin White missed his eighth straight game because of a groin injury. ... Former Chicago goalie Glenn Hall holds the record of 87 consecutive regular-season starts against the Rangers (1957-63). ... Chris Terreri was the last Devils goalie other than Brodeur to face the Rangers, back on Dec. 5, 1993.

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