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Devils dominate Rangers for first win of season

The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- It took eight games and more than two weeks, but the New Jersey Devils finally cracked the win column during the 2013-14 season.

Cory Schneider hardly had to break a sweat as he made 22 saves for his first win and shutout as a Devils goaltender in a 4-0 trouncing of the New York Rangers on Saturday night at Prudential Center.

The Devils earned a point in three of their first seven games by virtue of pushing contests beyond regulation before losing in either overtime or a shootout. They also held leads in four of those seven games before seeing them slip away.

On Saturday, the Devils put forth their best 60-minute effort of the season and were rewarded with two much-needed points.

"From the drop of the puck to the last horn, we didn't change the way we played," Schneider said. "We played 60 minutes of the way we want to play. I think we've seen that in spurts and for periods of time but I think this is the first time we carried it throughout a full game and you saw the results. It's a good thing."

Andrei Loktionov, Adam Henrique, Dainius Zubrus and Michael Ryder scored for the Devils, who had broken the two-goal barrier just twice all season.

Loktionov capitalized on a long rebound early in the first period to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Rangers defenseman John Moore gave the puck away to Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who fired a long shot that was stopped by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The rebound caromed right to Loktionov, who buried it at 7:22 for his first goal of the season.

Henrique made it 2-0 about five minutes later, rifling a slap shot from the left face-off circle that beat Lundqvist to the blocker side."

"My slap shot's a big weapon," Henrique quipped. "I think the effort has been there a lot of nights but the result hasn't been there but I think it was tonight. Even when we were ahead going into the third, we wanted to play the right way and finish the right way."

The Devils had just 19 shots on Lundqvist, but they made the most of them. This season has been a struggle for Rangers goaltender, who was coming off a 22-save shutout against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

In six games, Lundqvist is 2-4-0 with a 3.45 goals-against-average and .890 save percentage.

"I know it's there. I showed it the other night," Lundqvist said. "I just need to focus on the right things and stay positive here. Right now, when things go against you, you tend to focus more on the negative side than the positive side. So, that's something I need to change."

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn't single out his goaltender after the game, but when asked if the team needs to play better in front of Lundqvist, he offered a frank assessment.

"I'm sure if you were to ask him, he would probably tell you that he knows he can be better than what he's shown," Vigneault said. "He needs to be better.

"I'm not quite sure how much better we can be than giving the other team eight scoring chances. I mean, that's as low as a number as you're going to get in a hockey game. Yes, we can be better. Henrik can better also and we need to do a better job offensively."

The Devils (1-4-3) let a three-goal lead slip away on the road against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 7, but they made sure that wouldn't be the case against het Rangers.

After Ryder scored on the power play at the six-minute mark of the second period to make it 3-0, Zubrus backhanded a rebound past Lundqvist to make it 4-0 with 5:28 remaining before intermission.

The Rangers (2-5-0) made a push in the third period, outshooting the Devils 10-3, but it was too little, too late.

"Will obviously we needed the win," said Devils captain Bryce Salvador, who left the game briefly in the first period after a thunderous hit from the Rangers' Benoit Pouliot. "But I think the way we're looking at it is, not being of relief or anything, but more building off of playing 60 minutes and sticking to our system. That's what was important."

NOTES: The Devils were without LW Patrik Elias (illness), RW Damien Brunner (upper-body soreness) and LW Ryane Clowe (head injury). C Lokitonov was set to be a healthy scratch before Brunner suffered an injury during the morning skate Saturday. ... The Rangers were missing RW Ryan Callahan (thumb), LW Rick Nash (concussion) and LW Carl Hagelin (shoulder). Nash missed the past four games. ... This was the Rangers' seventh of nine straight road games to open the season. They won't play their home opener until Oct. 28 vs. the Montreal Canadiens.
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