By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Monday night's contest at Madison Square Garden was, in pure and simple terms, an absolute war, one in which every single inch of ice was open to battle between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. And when all was said and done, the Rangers had earned another crucial two points in the standings with a thoroughly impressive 2-0 victory.
With the win the Rangers now have 86 points on the season, nine better than both Boston and Pittsburgh for the tops spot in the East. The Rangers have won two straight after a modest 1-2-1 stretch, while the Devils now have lost three in a row.
The Rangers surrendered a season-low 13 shots on goal Monday night, only three in the third period, in helping Henrik Lundqvist pick up his league-leading eighth shutout of the season. Though not tested often, Lundqvist rose to the occasion in the final minutes of the game when he made a sensational glove save on Ilya kovalchuk's wicked rising snap shot from left wing.
In a game rich in trench warfare, Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin scored the game's first goal from less than a foot away from Martin Bordeur''s cage. Hagelin jammed his 11th goal of the season---and second in as many games---past Brodeur, off Ryan Callahan's pass, at 16:59 of the first period.
That goal held up until Hagelin used his speed to chase down a loose puck and center it to Callahan, who potted an empty-net goal with 66 seconds remaining in the third period. The goal was Callahan's 25th of the season---eighth in the past ten games---and put away a Devils team that played just as fiercely as the Rangers did, limiting New York to only 15 shots on goal.
Brian Boyle and Callahan were each credited with six hits during the contest, while Brandon Dubinsky and Mike Rupp totaled five hits apiece. Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh---aided by a diligent group of backchecking forwards---limited Kovalchuk and Zach Parise to three shots combined.