The New York Rangers still have the best record in the Eastern Conference, but they've been struggling of late. A matchup with the rival New Jersey Devils, a team they've dominated over the past year, could help them get back on track.
The Rangers try for their ninth win in 10 games against the Devils when the teams meet at the Prudential Center on Wednesday night.
New York (11-5-2) has hit its first rough patch of the season, going 1-3-1 over its last five games. The Rangers managed a point in their last game Monday night but suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton at Madison Square Garden.
New York outshot the Oilers 42-31 but was bested by rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who didn't allow a goal in the shootout. Chris Drury's goal 46 seconds into the third period tied it for the Rangers, who held a 20-5 edge in shots during the second but only scored once.
"I thought a lot of guys played well tonight," Drury told the Rangers' official Web site. "You don't get 42 shots without guys playing well and doing some things right. Obviously we wanted to get that third goal, but we didn't get it."
Drury and the Rangers will be looking to generate more offense Wednesday after managing six goals in their last four losses, including a pair of one-goal defeats.
"We have to play with more passion, and play our game right from the start," forward Markus Naslund told the team's Web site. "It seems like we don't do that until we're down a couple of goals, and that's not good enough."
Facing the Devils (7-5-2) for the first time without long-time nemesis Martin Brodeur might help the Rangers get back on track offensively. Brodeur suffered a torn biceps Nov. 1 that required surgery and will keep him out until at least February.
New Jersey has gone 1-3-0 without Brodeur. Former Ranger Kevin Weekes has taken over as the No. 1 goaltender and posted a 2.65 goals-against average in three games.
The Devils' struggles without Brodeur have been due more to a lack of offense than poor goaltending. New Jersey has scored two goals in the three losses since Brodeur went down, and its 37 goals this season are among the fewest in the conference.
New Jersey also fell victim to the Oilers and Drouin-Deslauriers in their last game, losing 2-1 at home Sunday night. Just as with the Rangers, Edmonton's goalie faced 20 shots in the second period, although he didn't allow any goals during that span.
Zach Parise cut the Oilers' lead to one goal early in the third, but Drouin-Deslauriers made 11 saves in the period and 37 for the game.
"We played hard. You have a power play and you don't score on it, get some quality scoring chances," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter told the Devils' Web site. "They get the next power play and they go down and score. It puts them up 2-0. It's tough. You're battling, competing but try and do what you can."
Battling and competing against the Rangers hasn't yielded results of late for Sutter's team. New York is enjoying its longest period of dominance in the long-running series between the Atlantic Division rivals, going 8-0-1 since a shootout loss on Feb. 22, 2007.
The one New Jersey victory during that stretch came April 6 at the Prudential Center, 3-2 in a shootout that snapped the Rangers' seven-game win streak versus the Devils. New York took the first meeting this season 4-1 on Oct. 13 at MSG.
The Devils will be without defenseman Paul Martin on Wednesday night. Martin, who led New Jersey defensemen with 32 points in 2007-08, has missed the last four games with upper-back soreness and was placed on injured reserve Monday.
LW - NYR
G: 1 | A: 2
RW - NYR
G: 1 | A: 1
D - NYR
G: 0 | A: 1