EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker)—The New York Rangers avoided falling farther behind in the Eastern Conference playoff race, rallying for a 3-3 tie with the New Jersey Devils on Petr Nedved’s power-play goal with 4:28 left in the third period.
New York was in danger of dropping seven points out of eighth place with 20 games remaining. But the Rangers cashed in after Jeff Friesen was penalized for slashing with 5:04 to play.
Rookie Jamie Lundmark passed from behind the goal line to Nedved, who one-timed a shot from the left faceoff dot that handcuffed Martin Brodeur, squeezing between his body and right arm. It was Nedved’s 22nd goal of the season and first in five games.
“He made a great pass. He held and held on and I went from the right side all the way to the other side and then toward the middle,” Nedved said. “He gave a good pass and I shot it right away.”
“It went right through me,” said Brodeur, who made 23 saves. “It went between my body and my arm. It was a real good shot from that spot.”
Eric Lindros had a chance to win it in regulation for the Rangers but shot wide of the net with Brodeur down in the final minute. Moments later, Lindros took a controversial elbowing penalty, but New York survived the ensuing power play and completed a 2-3-1 road trip.
“Of course, we wanted to win, but it was a hard-fought battle for one point,” said Rangers center Bobby Holik, who was jeered in his first game back in New Jersey since leaving as a free agent. “Now we can’t look at more than the next game ahead. The next game is the only thing we control.”
Jamie Langenbrunner scored twice for the Devils, who are unbeaten in their last three contests (2-0-1) following a three-game winless streak.
“They got a lucky shot at the end to tie it up,” New Jersey coach Pat Burns said. “We had our chances early on. I’m not disappointed.”
This was the third tie of the season for the New York-area rivals, but the Devils are 18-2-12 in the last 32 meetings.
“We had their number there for quite a while,” New Jersey captain Scott Stevens said. “Toward the end of last year, they started to play even hockey with us. With all their firepower, the chances they get they capitalize on. It was a pretty evenly matched game.”
All three Rangers’ goals came off passes from behind the goal line. Defenseman Tom Poti opened the scoring 7:25 into the first period when he sneaked down the slot, got a feed from Alexei Kovalev and put a wrister past Brodeur for his 10th goal.
The Devils tallied twice in the second to grab the lead. At 6:54, Brian Gionta got a rebound of rookie Michael Rupp’s shot and snapped a shot that hit the back bracing of the net and caromed out. Play continued for 21 seconds before the play was reviewed by the video replay official and Gionta was credited with his eighth goal.
Langenbrunner put New Jersey back in front less than four minutes later. After former Devils defenseman Vladimir Malakhov coughed up the puck outside his own blue line, Langenbrunner broke in alone and snapped a backhander into the top right corner of the net.
“We had the lead twice and had it in the third period and we didn’t hold it,” Brodeur said. “They have good players who can make things happen.”
Beaten by Nedved on the equalizer, Brodeur came up big midway through overtime. Off a feed from Kovalev, Leetch deflected the puck off the goalie’s glove and the right post before Brodeur covered up.
“We had some great chances in overtime and he stopped Brian right on the line,” Nedved said. “They had the 4-on-3, which was a great opportunity for them, and we did a good kill with that and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
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