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Rangers show why they own the road

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continued his mastery over the Devils Wednesday night, making 43 saves for his 21st career victory vs. New Jersey.

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One game after facing only 20 shots in a 7-2 win over the Islanders on Monday night, Henrik Lundqvist was a much busier goaltender on Wednesday at the Prudential Center against the Devils, although the end result was equally as gratifying.

Lundqvist stopped 43 of 44 shots in a standout performance on Wednesday, as the Rangers edged the Devils 3-1, the club’s league-leading 13th road win of the season. Overall the Rangers are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, while the Devils have now lost six in a row.

“That’s one thing I like about this team this year, that we’ve found ways to win all different kinds of games,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “Hank stood in there for us and he’s an important guy for us in this type of situation. He gave us a chance, and then I thought our game grew.”

Lundqvist stopped all 20 shots he faced in the second period, helping the Rangers turn a 1-1 tie into a 2-1 advantage by the time 40 minutes of hockey had been played. With calm precision, Lundqvist stared down shots from all angles and all areas of the ice as the Devils fired away without hesitation in the middle stanza.

“When you play a team like this that’s been struggling you can tell they’re going to try and create things by throwing pucks at you from everywhere,” said Lundqvist, whose 43 saves on Wednesday were a season-high. “I think they played pretty well, but you can tell they’re lacking in confidence a little bit with the last part, scoring goals.”

Michal Rozsival rewarded his goaltender by giving the Rangers their first lead of the night at 13:22 of the second. Easing in from the right point, Rozsival accepted a Brandon Dubinsky pass in the right circle and fired a shot that deflected off New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene and beat Martin Brodeur to the short side for his third goal of the season.

Defenseman Michal Rozsival is congratulated by teammates after scoring the game-winnerl at 13:22 of the second period on Wednesday. The goal was Rozsival's first since the Rangers' last visit to Newark.
Ironically that scoring chance -- though a good one -- was far from the best the Rangers had in the second period. Brodeur made a string of acrobatic saves while stopping 11 of 12 Rangers’ shots in that middle period.

During a Rangers power play midway through the second Brodeur, flashed a quick glove up high to snag Marian Gaborik’s wicked right-wing shot, and shortly thereafter made a fantastic lunging pad save to rob Dubinsky’s rebound attempt.

With 3:30 to go in the second, Brodeur sprawled to the ice to deny Chris Drury and Sean Avery in dramatic fashion and keep the Rangers’ lead at one goal.

“That second period both teams were giving up chances left and right,” Tortorella said. “Both goalies were just unbelievable.”

While Brodeur was making the acrobatic stops, Lundqvist was very efficient and well-positioned much of the time, stopping 35 of 36 shots through two periods of play. So calm was Lundqvist that he never flinched in stoning Mattias Tedenby’s breakaway with six minutes to play in the middle period, squeezing his pads together as the Devils rookie stared at the Prudential Center ceiling in shock.

“It was probably a big stop,” said Lundqvist. “I wasn’t sure I had it at first because he went pretty fast to the side and I had to keep my legs together.”

Travis Zajac was able to skim a puck under Lundqvist off a wild scramble in the Rangers’ goal crease 6:31 into the first period to give the Devils a well-earned 1-0 lead. New Jersey stormed out of the dressing room playing a physical game that had the visitors on their heels until Brian Boyle was able to answer back and tie the game 47 seconds after Zajac’s goal.

Collecting Ruslan Fedotenko’s pass on left wing, just inside the Devils’ blueline, Boyle finished the 3-on-2 rush by sending a tricky shot under Brodeur’s glove for his 14th goal at 7:31. Although the Devils still outshot the Rangers 16-5 in the opening 20 minutes, Boyle’s goal at least provided the visitors equal footing on the scoreboard.

Rangers defensemen Michael Sauer and Matt Gilroy congratulate forward Brian Boyle on his 14th goal of the season, which Boyle scored at 7:18 of the third period to pull the Blueshirts into a 1-1 tie.
“If you don’t surprise (Brodeur) then he’s going to save everything,” said Boyle. “It was big because we wanted to respond, and we were fortunate it happened right away. It was a big goal, and was important for us, I think. It just goes to show you that, all year, we have come back no matter what happens.”

After surrendering 36 shots in the first two periods, the Rangers settled down defensively in the third and controlled much of the play in that final stanza. Lundqvist stopped all eight shots he faced in the third -- including open opportunities for Ilya Kovalchuk and Tedenby during Devils power plays -- and the Rangers had three hugely important and successful penalty kills over the final 20 minutes of play.

Tortorella praised Boyle, Drury, Artem Anisimov, and Marc Staal for their strong play in the final period, and felt that his team did an excellent job of turning things around after a very slow start to the game.

Marc Staal was an animal in the third period as far as penalty killing, winning battles,” said the head coach. “I thought his game rose to a whole other level which was so important. And up the middle, I thought (Boyle and Anisimov) carried us.”

Dubinsky iced the game by scoring his team-leading 16th goal of the season into an empty net with 5.5 seconds left on the clock.

“It was not our best game, but we battled and we just found a way to win this game,” said Lundqvist. “It was great to see. And we’ve had a few wins this year where we weren’t playing our best, but we worked really hard and found ways to win.”

With a victory to start their three-game road trip, the Rangers now head to the Sunshine State where they will skate against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
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