After a bizarre weekend, the Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey Devils may be thrilled to be back on a regular schedule once again.
They’ll take the ice for the fourth time in five nights Tuesday when they face the surging New York Rangers in a meeting of Atlantic Division foes at Madison Square Garden.
The Devils (31-11-1) trailed 3-0 against Tampa Bay midway through the second period Friday when the lights at Prudential Center went out, causing a delay of nearly two hours before the league suspended the game and ordered it to be completed Sunday.
While the result of that contest remained in limbo, New Jersey visited Montreal on Saturday, and Zach Parise(notes) scored 2:38 into overtime to clinch a 2-1 win. Less than 24 hours later, the Devils took the ice in Newark to play the final 29:12 against the Lightning, and fell 4-2.
“Everything about this situation was odd, from Friday sitting around here waiting to see what would happen, to playing a game when you’re worried about something the night before,” said Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner(notes), who was also named captain of the U.S. Olympic team Monday. “Under the circumstances, we handled it well. We played well all weekend. Now we move forward.”
Parise, an alternate captain on Team USA, is heating up, getting a goal in each of the last three games after finding the net twice in the previous 16. He leads New Jersey with 20 goals and 46 points.
Parise has 12 goals and 16 assists in 26 games against the Rangers (22-17-6), including two goals and one assist in a 4-2 victory at New York on Oct. 22.
Martin Brodeur(notes) will likely be in net after Yann Danis(notes) stopped six of seven shots over the final 1 1/2 periods Sunday. Brodeur was the original starter of that contest, and gave up three goals on seven shots before making 29 saves against the Canadiens for his NHL-record 585th win.
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner leads the league with 28 wins, and the all-time shutout leader has five to tie Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) and Ryan Miller(notes) of Buffalo for the top spot this season. Brodeur also ranks among the NHL’s leaders with a 2.16 goals-against average.
He made 29 saves to beat the Rangers in October, ending a personal six-game losing streak at MSG.
The Devils, who have split two meetings with the Rangers, haven’t had much success at in Manhattan recently, going 2-4-2.
A member of the Swedish Olympic team, Lundqvist has started 11 of the last 12 games, going 8-1-2 with a 1.82 GAA. He made 29 saves, including one on a penalty shot, in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Boston.
New York improved to 4-0-2 since a 6-0 home loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 30.
The Rangers may get a lift from the return of Vaclav Prospal(notes), who’s been out since undergoing knee surgery Dec. 28. Prospal is second on the team with 32 points, and has three in two matchups with the Devils.
Despite Prospal’s return, coach John Tortorella will keep Erik Christensen(notes) in the lineup. Claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Dec. 2, Christensen has three goals and four assists over six games after being held without a point in his first 17.
“Erik has played very well for us when he’s been given some ice time, so Vinny Prospal comes back in and Erik’s not coming out,” Tortorella said. “He’s played too well.”
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