The New Jersey Devils
were tantalizingly close to finally coming away with a win over the New York Rangers
. Chris Drury
and his resilient teammates just wouldn’t let them.
Drury erased a 1-0 deficit by scoring with 4:46 remaining in the third period, and Nigel Dawes scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Blueshirts improved to 6-0 against their cross-river rivals this season with a 2-1 victory over the Devils at the Prudential Center on Wednesday night.
The win pulled the Rangers even with fifth-seeded Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference — both teams have 87 points, though the Senators have one more victory. New York also pulled within four points of first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.
Henrik Lundqvist made 17 saves through overtime before going 3-for-3 in the shootout for his sixth win over Martin Brodeur this season. After Nigel Dawes beat Brodeur between the legs in Round 2, Lundqvist denied Brian Gionta and Zach Parise to preserve the win.
“It’s weird … maybe if that game’s at home, we get a little too tense and start to cheat and then they make it 2-0,” Drury said. “But on the road, it seems like we were pretty calm down the stretch. We just kept playing our system.”
Until Drury’s tally, Dainius Zubrus had the game’s only goal, which came on the power play 6:05 into the first period. After Michal Rozsival was called for high-sticking, Zubrus took a pass from Michael Rupp and one-timed it past Lundqvist from the lower right circle to give the Devils an early 1-0 lead.
New Jersey limited the Rangers to just 14 shots on goal through the first two periods, and Brodeur looked like he would earn what would have been the 97th shutout of his career.
“We were in control for most of the game,” Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “It’s definitely frustrating, but for the most part we played a pretty solid game. It’s one of those things where we made a mistake and it ended up in our net.”
Lundqvist expected the Devils to tighten things up after Zubrus provided them with the early 1-0 lead.
“When they score the first goal, they’re just really smart and they stay back,” Lundqvist said. “They wait for mistakes. We didn’t do too many mistakes out there, and that was probably the key for us to come back in the game. It was a tough game to create something. It was a big win for us.”
Drury tied the game less than 20 seconds after the Rangers failed to convert on their fourth power play of the night. He took a nifty cross-ice feed from Ryan Callahan and ripped it past Brodeur for his 23rd goal of the season.
''He just finds a way to be at the right place at the right time,'' said Lundqvist, who earned his 100th NHL victory Tuesday in a 5-2 home win over Pittsburgh. ''He just gets sharper and sharper. You get a really good feeling when you see him out there.''
The Rangers had a good feeling on the bench as they watched Dawes take center stage in the second round of the shootout. Dawes, who entered the game with three shootout goals in five chances, made a quick move that froze Brodeur just long enough for the rookie forward to fire a quick wrist shot between the pads.
“He missed the shot,'' Brodeur said. ''He was going to shoot it, I think low blocker and it kind of hit and went off his heel low. My stick was off the ice because I was reading something else.''
Dawes didn’t exactly see it that way.
''I might not have gotten as much on it as I wanted to, but my intention was to go five-hole,'' Dawes said. ''I wanted to try to get him to freeze a little bit, and I got him with a good fake. Then I wanted to get him as he was trying to reset.''
Lundqvist downplayed the fact that he is now 6-0 against Brodeur this season. Instead, the Rangers’ netminder was more concerned with his team getting two much-needed points in the heated Eastern Conference playoff race.
“It feels good to get the win, especially now when we need the points,” Lundqvist said. “They’re a good team. It’s always fun to play New Jersey. It’s a big battle. We’ve been playing really well this year so far against this team, so hopefully we can keep going.”
New Jersey has two more regular-season chances to beat the Rangers, including a return match at home on the final day of the season.
''We're going to have to beat them sooner or later,'' said forward Zach Parise, who missed on the final shot of the shootout. ''They've gotten a little closer than we'd like them to be. They really played well and limited our chances.''
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.