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Rangers, Devils meet one last time at MSG

by Dave Lozo
DEVILS (41-26-5) AT RANGERS (44-20-7)


Last 10: New Jersey 6-3-1; New York 4-5-1.

Season Series: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Atlantic Division foes. The Devils have won three of five games while the Rangers have amassed five points during the season series.

Big Story: The Rangers are trying to fight off the Penguins for the top spot in the East, while the Devils are trying to make a desperate push for home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason. The Rangers hold a one-point lead on the Penguins and have dropped two straight, while the Devils are in sixth place, seven points back of the fourth-place Pens, who have a game in hand.

Team Scope:

Devils: Facing a Penguins team that had won 10 straight at the time, the Devils hung tough for a period, scrapping for a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes. But the Pens stepped on the gas and blew away the Devils, 5-2, in a very lopsided affair on Saturday afternoon.

Afterward, coach Peter DeBoer didn't find many positives.

"You cannot show up against, I think, the best team that I've seen this year with less than you're A-game," he said. "We were off in some areas and they expose it and make you pay."

What areas were they?

"Do we have all night here? Attention to detail. We lost key faceoffs, lost key puck battles, gave up too many odd-man rushes -- too many areas against too good of a team."

Rangers: Trying to bounce back from a 5-2 loss of their own to the Pens, the Rangers carried the play and found themselves on the attack most of the time Saturday night, but still fell to the Avs 2-1.

The Rangers fired 42 shots on goaltender Semyon Varlamov, but he turned aside 41 of them.  It was the Rangers' fifth loss in seven games and left them 0-5-0 in their last five games against teams currently in playoff position.

Despite all that, the Rangers felt they were the better team, except for the play of Varlamov.

"I think their goalie kind of saved the day for them," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "Varlamov played really well. I think we played really well. We created a lot of chances, especially in the third. "

Who's Hot: Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk has 5 goals and 5 assists in his last 7 games. … Rangers center Brad Richards has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 games.

Injury Report: Devils center Travis Zajac (Achilles') plans to return before the end of the season, but he won't be back vs. the Rangers. … Rangers winger Artem Anisimov (arm) missed Saturday's game and is likely out again for this one.

Stat Pack: Ilya Kovalchuk is sixth in the NHL with 72 points. The last time a Devil finished that high in the scoring race was 2008-09 when Zach Parise finished fifth with 94 points.

Puck Drop: "I'm encouraged. We were stiffer. I thought we made some really good defensive plays and our chances were really good chances, so we can't get discouraged. I've always said it's how you play. Sometimes you've got to look by the result and remember how you've played and we can build on it." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella, on his team's performance against the Avs on Saturday

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