Before Saturday, the New York Rangers had experienced no success on the road this season. Their difficulties in New Jersey have lasted more than 10 years.
On Wednesday, the surging Rangers hope to build on their first road win when they make their debut against the Devils at the new Prudential Center, a game that marks New York center Scott Gomez's return to New Jersey.
The Rangers, 1-5-1 away from Madison Square Garden this season, hope a change of venue in the Garden State will change their fortunes against the Devils there. The Rangers were 5-24-2 with three ties at the Meadowlands, the Devils' former home, since Feb. 9, 1995.
New York (9-7-1), though, took a key step Saturday as it continued to bounce back from a rough start to the season. Marcel Hossa's shootout goal gave the Rangers a 3-2 win over Toronto for their first road victory of 2007-08.
"We have confidence in winning on the road now," rookie defenseman Marc Staal told the Rangers' official Web site. "We just have to take what we do at home and bring it on the road with us."
The Rangers have won six of seven games to pull within three points of first-place Philadelphia, and their remaining three games on this four-game trip are against Atlantic Division rivals, including a Thursday matchup with the Flyers.
"We feel that this can be the stepping stone of our season," said Rangers backup goaltender Stephen Valiquette, who made 32 saves in his season debut Saturday. "We are playing our best. It's going to be a big test this week. This is going to be the biggest week of the year so far."
Wednesday will be a big night for Gomez, who played his first seven seasons with New Jersey and recorded 116 goals and 334 assists, helping the Devils to Stanley Cup titles in 2000 and '03. He signed a seven-year, $51.5 million contract with the Rangers on July 1.
Gomez, who scored the game's opening goal in New York's 2-1 victory over New Jersey at MSG on Nov. 3, has started to produce with his new team after getting off to a slow start like most of the Rangers. He extended his point streak to six games with an assist Saturday and has four goals and six assists on the season.
New York looks to beat the Devils (7-8-2) for the third time in as many meetings this season and deny Martin Brodeur win No. 500 on Wednesday.
Brodeur is 38-16-2 with 15 ties and a 2.05 goals-against average in 71 games against the Rangers. He's 9-0-1 with a 1.18 GAA in his last 10 home meetings with New York.
Brodeur and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist are expected to start Wednesday after sitting out their teams' last games. Lundqvist had started 43 straight games, including 10 in the postseason, until Valiquette earned the win Saturday.
Brodeur, who's played 14 of his club's 17 contests, has lost three of his last four starts and got the night off Monday at Pittsburgh, with former Ranger Kevin Weekes starting and making 23 saves in a 3-2 victory.
"Our confidence level has been going up and down so far this season, so to be able to bounce back and win this game says a lot about us," Weekes said. "We feel a lot better about ourselves."
The Devils ended a five-game road skid as Patrik Elias scored the winner with 5:23 left. Elias' goal, his first in 11 games, allowed New Jersey to earn the victory after blowing a 2-0 first-period lead.
"They made something happen on that 3-on-2 and that's what you need them to do," said Devils first-year coach Brent Sutter, whose team is 3-2-0 at home. "It's a big goal obviously and it's good to see Elias score. Hopefully, this will give him some confidence."
The Devils went 1-for-6 on the power play Monday, recording their only goal with the man advantage in their last 23 chances. The Rangers have killed 31 of 33 short-handed situations in their last nine games.
Lundqvist is 0-5-1 with a 2.16 GAA on the road this season, but he's 7-2-3 with a 1.54 GAA in 12 games against New Jersey.