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Rangers and Devils try to reverse skids

by Dave Lozo

RANGERS (29-28-9) at DEVILS (38-23-3)

Last 10 -- New York 4-4-2; New Jersey 3-6-1

Season series --
This is the fifth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. They split their first four meetings of the season. It's the Rangers' first trip to Newark since Oct. 5, when they left with a 3-2 victory.

Big story -- It's a battle of two struggling teams trying to right themselves with the playoffs approaching. The Devils looked to have control of the Atlantic Division, but they now trail Pittsburgh by five points. The Rangers are two points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- They have been streaky all season, and are now in the midst of a three-game losing streak that follows a three-game winning streak.

But the Rangers have emerged with two points during this recent slide thanks to extending a couple games to overtime before falling. A lack of offense has been the culprit -- the Rangers have just one goal in their last six periods (and parts of two overtimes) of play.

"Everybody has to contribute out there," Rangers forward Marian Gaborik said. "We don't have a lot of games left and it's very tight in the standings, so everybody has to step up their game."

Devils -- After skidding into the Olympic break, the Devils came out with a strong performance in a 4-3 win in San Jose. But they followed that with two ugly losses in Calgary and Edmonton (yes, Edmonton) in which nothing seemed to be working.

"Our focus wasn't there. Our legs weren't there," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said after the 2-0 loss to the lowly Oilers on Sunday. "Maybe we felt that because we were playing a team that doesn't win a lot of games, we could just go through the motions. But we've talked about this all year. To win games you have to work."

Who's hot --
U.S. Olympian Zach Parise has been on fire coming out of the break, picking up 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games. … Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky has 2 goals in 3 games since the regular season resumed.

Injury report --
As they were last season, the Rangers are generally healthy, though Gaborik has been slowed somewhat by a lower-body injury. … Devils defenseman Paul Martin (forearm) skated with assistant coach Tommy Albelin on Tuesday and Lemaire says Martin should be returning "shortly," but offered no timetable. Left wing Dean McAmmond left Sunday's game with the Oilers with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Stat Pack -- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 3-1-1 with a 1.19 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last five starts against the Devils. … The Devils play all 18 of their remaining games in the Eastern time zone with 11 at the PrudentialCenter. … The Devils are 6-12-2 since their 1-0 shootout win against the Rangers at MadisonSquareGarden on Jan. 12.

Puck drop --
"We have to start to really think about the consequences of not getting back to playing good hockey. You can't even think of going into the playoffs playing this way. You can't even think of it, not for a second." -- Jacques Lemaire

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