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Rangers host Devils in battle of resurgent teams

by Mike G. Morreale

DEVILS (5-7-5) at RANGERS (9-8-0)


Last 10: New Jersey 5-3-2; New York 7-3-0

Season series: This is the second of five meetings between the cross-river rivals. Cory Schneider made 22 saves for his 10th career shutout and first with the New Jersey Devils when the teams last met Oct. 19.

Big story: The New York Rangers are rolling, having won seven of the past nine games. Behind goalie Henrik Lundqvist, they limited the opposition to two or fewer goals in nine consecutive games before allowing three goals in a victory against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. The streak was their longest since the 1970-71 season. The Devils come off a season-high five goals in a victory against the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

Team Scope:

Devils: Jaromir Jagr reached 1,701 career points with a goal and an assist, Travis Zajac scored the 100th goal of his career, and Martin Brodeur recorded his 123rd career shutout with 15 saves when the Devils defeated the Predators, 5-0, at Prudential Center. Mattias Tedenby scored for the first time this season and Cam Janssen also connected in New Jersey's win.

Jagr, 41, the top-scoring Czech-born player in NHL history, is the eighth player in League history to reach 1,700 points. His former teammate on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, ranks seventh on the all-time list with 1,723 points.

"With [Patrik] Elias out of the lineup and some of the people who left here, we had a hole for somebody like [Jagr], and he's come in and filled that," coach Peter DeBoer said. "He made some other stops in Dallas, Philadelphia and Boston, where they all had two or three guys. We needed a guy to fill that prominent spot as a go-to guy offensively, and he's come in and done that."

Rangers: Brad Richards scored the go-ahead goal 46 seconds into the third and then set up Mats Zuccarello's game-winner 5:30 later to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 victory against the Panthers at Madison Square Garden. J.T. Miller and Derek Dorsett also scored for the Rangers, who have won three in a row. Lundqvist, who has allowed two or fewer goals in six of the past eight games, made 24 saves to improve to 6-6-0 in 2013-14.

Aiding in New York's resurgence in recent weeks has been the power play. The team is 6-for-24 in the past seven games.

"It feels like a power play. It didn't feel like much of a power play last year," Richards said. "We practice it every day, everybody is communicating in practice. Everybody has a voice on it."

Who's hot: Carl Hagelin has a five-game point streak (four goals, three assists) and Derek Stepan has four goals and eight points in the past seven games for the Rangers. … Janssen entered the season with three goals in 312 career games; he has two goals in three games since being recalled from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on Nov. 6.

DeBoer was asked if he's been surprised with Janssen's play since he was recalled from Albany.

"Surprised that he's on pace for 57 goals?" DeBoer asked, tongue in cheek. "It's great for him. He's been a great shot of energy for our group, and it couldn't happen to a better guy. He's still doing his thing and finishing hits and going to the net."

Injury report: Elias (upper body), Ryane Clowe (head) and Bryce Salvador (foot) are on injured reserve for the Devils. Rookie defenseman Jon Merrill (face) has not played since his NHL debut Nov. 3 after crashing into the boards awkwardly. Stephen Gionta (sore foot) is day-to-day. … Rangers forward Rick Nash (head) has been skating on his own and taking shots, but will miss his 15th straight game. He has not played since Oct. 8 and there is no timetable for his return. Forwards Dominic Moore (oblique) and Taylor Pyatt (concussion) are out.

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