NEW YORK (AP)—Henrik Lundqvist’s first NHL win came against one of the best.
“It felt really good,” Lundqvist said after the Rangers ended a three-game losing streak. “I felt so happy to get that first win.”
That fact that Martin Brodeur was in the opposite net only added to the experience.
“He’s a great goalie,” Lundqvist said. “It’s fun to see him play and it’s great to play against all these players who are the greatest in the world.”
Even the great ones have off nights. Brodeur was not sharp as he let in a soft goal to Martin Rucinsky that gave the Rangers a lead in the first period.
“Letting in that first goal gave them some wind and it set it us back,” Brodeur said. “On the next shift they scored another one to put us behind the 8-ball.”
Ville Nieminen scored 17 seconds after Rucinsky to provide all the support Lundqvist would need.
Brian Gionta scored for the Devils, who are 24-4-11 against the Rangers since the 1997-98 season.
Rucinsky got the Rangers rolling with a shot from the left circle that beat Brodeur between the pads at 11:35. Nieminen split the Devils’ defense soon after and lifted a backhander over Brodeur for a 2-0 lead.
Betts made it 3-0 at 16:02 of the opening period when he scored on a rebound of Martin Straka’s shot.
The highlight of the scoreless second period came at the midpoint when Lundqvist preserved the shutout with a sprawling save on John Madden’s short-handed breakaway.
In the third, the Devils broke through at 4:16 when Gionta scored with the teams skating four-on-four.
Jagr made it 4-1 with a power-play goal at 12:59.
Brodeur made his 68th consecutive appearance against the Rangers, 56 in the regular season and 12 in the playoffs. … Devils D Paul Martin missed the game with a bruised back. … Lundqvist has made two starts, both against the Devils. He dropped his NHL debut, 3-2 in overtime, in New Jersey last Saturday. … Rangers G Kevin Weekes did not dress due to a groin strain. Al Montoya, called up from Hartford of the AHL on Wednesday, served as Lundqvist’s backup. … Jagr’s goal was the 541st of his career, tying him for second place with Stan Mikita on the all-time list for goals scored in the NHL by a European. Jari Kurri is the leader with 601.