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Rivalry renews with Rangers hosting reeling Devils

by Brian Compton
DEVILS (2-5-1) at RANGERS (3-2-1)

TV:  MSG-Plus, MSG.

Season Series: This is first of six meetings between the heated rivals. New Jersey went 3-2-1 against the Rangers in 2009-10.

Big Story: The Devils' rocky start continued on Saturday night, when they suffered a 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the Prudential Center. New Jersey has won only two if its first eight games and labeled star forward Ilya Kovalchuk as a healthy scratch against Buffalo.

"That's between him and I," Devils coach John MacLean said when asked about scratching Kovalchuk, who has two goals and three assists in seven games. "It was my decision.

"I spoke with him, and that's where it's going to stay."

Team Scope:

Devils: Five games into their home schedule, New Jersey has yet to win a game at the Prudential Center. Johan Hedberg was pulled in his first start as a Devil, as he allowed four goals on 15 shots Saturday night against the Sabres. New Jersey is now 0-4-1 on home ice.

"I'm concerned," Parise said. "Yeah, it's early, but we're letting a lot of points slip away. Tonight was the same thing, we gotta start competing harder and playing better because it's going to be a long year if we keep this up."

Rangers: New York posted another strong showing on Saturday night in a 3-2 victory against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. The Rangers have now recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

"Guys have been stepping up and we've been playing better, and we've come together more as a team, playing a better team game," said defenseman Marc Staal, who scored the game-winning goal against the Bruins. "It's good to see."

Who's Hot: Parise scored the lone goal for New Jersey on Saturday night. It was his third goal of the season. … With a goal on Saturday against the Bruins, Artem Anisimov has points in three straight games.

Injury Report: Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov has missed six straight games with a broken nose and stiff neck. Colin Fraser (broken hand) is out 4-6 weeks, as is Brian Rolston (sports hernia). Bryce Salvador (concussion) and Anssi Salmela (knee) are both on long-term IR. … Rangers captain Chris Drury is expected to miss six weeks with a broken finger, while Marian Gaborik (shoulder) could be out a month. Vinny Prospal is out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury.

Stat Pack: Rangers backup goalie Martin Biron stopped 24 of 25 shots in his first start with the club, a 2-1 win Thursday at Toronto. It was Biron's 32nd career start against the Maple Leafs, his second most against any NHL team.

Puck Drop: "Our third period was great. The whole game as long as we were 5-on-5 we played really well. It was important going into the third that we stayed disciplined, and we did that. We really played smart. It's a great feeling to get the win here." -- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist after Saturday's win at Boston
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