Goaltender Martin Brodeur has been a key to the New Jersey Devils' success this season. The only thing he's been unable to do is beat the New York Rangers.
Brodeur and the Devils (42-24-6) look to beat the Rangers for the first time in six tries on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.
Since a three-game skid from Jan. 24-Feb. 1, New Jersey has gone 14-4-3 to take a one-point lead in the Atlantic Division, where the top four teams are separated by just eight points. Brodeur has been in net for all those contests, posting a 2.05 goals-against average.
He reached 40 wins for the seventh time in his career after making 24 saves in a 4-2 win at Colorado on Saturday.
"I build my career and the way I play around being consistent," said Brodeur, second all-time with 534 victories. "I play a lot of games, my teammates expect me to win 40 games. They (goals) are nice to accomplish, but your team has got to be a big part of it also."
|The New York Rangers are a perfect 5-0 against the New Jersey Devils this year and can move within three points of their Atlantic Division rival for first place in the Eastern Conference with a win in regulation tonight. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Jay Pandolfo had a goal and an assist, while Brian Gionta added two assists for the Devils, who have won five of their last six.
New Jersey, which currently shares the Eastern Conference lead with Montreal, is looking for its third straight Atlantic title. Success in their final 10 games this season - all against divisional opponents, including three with the Rangers (38-26-9) - could go a long way toward that.
But New Jersey has lost all five matchups with the Rangers this season since a 3-2 shootout victory at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 22, 2007.
Brodeur is 38-18-3 with 15 ties, seven shutouts and a 2.06 goals-against average in 74 career starts against the Rangers. This season, he's 0-3-2 with a 1.98 GAA against them. The Devils haven't provided him with much offensive support, totaling just four goals. They've also been shut out twice by New York, which leads the NHL with 11 this season.
Brodeur has been dominant at home against New York, going 26-7-1 with three ties, seven shutouts and a 1.83 GAA in 37 starts. The Rangers, though, seek their first three-game winning streak in New Jersey since Nov. 30, 1993-April 2, 1994, the season they last won the Stanley Cup.
New York, which has won four of its last six overall, is coming off a 5-2 home victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Sean Avery scored two goals, and Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves for the Rangers, who avoided their third straight defeat and moved into sixth in the East.
"If you have two losses in a row, of course you get a little tense, you get a little nervous, but you understand how important this game is, too," said Lundqvist, who improved to 4-2-0 with a shutout and a 1.63 GAA in his last six starts. "We have a tough game tomorrow and you don't want to let it slip."
Lundqvist has been in net for each meeting against the Devils this season, posting two shutouts and a 0.79 GAA in those games.
In the most recent meeting, Lundqvist made 33 saves in a 3-1 victory on Feb. 1 to improve to 10-2-3 with a 1.43 GAA in 15 lifetime starts. He is also 3-2-2 with a 1.81 GAA in seven at New Jersey.