Devils 3, Rangers 1
The general manager-turned interim coach was perfectly pleased by his first NHL win behind the bench. The souvenir was just a bonus.
“I was happy to give it to him,” Brodeur said after making 30 saves in a 3-1 victory Tuesday night. “I said ‘I don’t know if you want to put that one in your office. It has a Rangers emblem on it.”’
Lamoriello will certainly take it. His only other time as a coach in the NHL came during the 1988 playoffs when he filled in for suspended coach Jim Schoenfeld. That one ended in a 7-1 New Jersey loss.
This one was much closer but appeared to be headed to another Devils loss until offensive lightning struck.
“Well, he’s .500 now so he’ll be happy,” Brodeur said.
Lamoriello stepped in as Devils coach on Monday after Larry Robinson surprisingly stepped down just 32 games into what has, so far, been a disappointing season. New Jersey (15-13-5) beat the Rangers in New York for the first time this season (2-3).
“It was weird when the big boss is right behind you,” center Scott Gomez said. “But it was positive, positive, positive.”
Gomez and Mogilny were both benched by Robinson for most of the final two periods in his last game as Devils coach—a 4-1 loss Saturday at Carolina.
But Brodeur felt a different energy around the team for this one. He wasn’t ready to give all the credit for that to Lamoriello.
“We played really hard. But again we were playing the Rangers, it’s not just a regular game against Carolina or any other team,” he said. “We had to get up. With all the stuff that’s happened to us in the 36 hours or so. Guys finally concentrated on just playing hockey. Nobody cared about the outside world.”
Earning your first NHL coaching victory is usually a watershed moment. But when it comes after building three Stanley Cup championship teams and in an emergency moment it doesn’t hold the same allure.
“I really wasn’t thinking about it, to tell you the truth,” the 63-year-old Lamoriello said.
Both teams have struggled to score at all, especially on the power play. The Devils were 0-for-11 to spiral to 3-81. New York was 0-for-6, putting the Rangers on a 6-for-70 slide over 12 games.
Kevin Weekes was 5:41 away from his first shutout in nearly two years but instead lost his second straight decision in the span of three days. Weekes allowed two goals within 19 seconds to Colorado’s Joe Sakic on Sunday in a 2-1 loss.
Steve Rucchin scored for New York, which matched a season-worst, three-game losing streak. They have all come at home in the team’s worst skid at Madison Square Garden this season.
“You can’t win scoring one goal,” said Jaromir Jagr, who leads with 23 but has only two in 10 games and none during the losing streak. “The way we played was not good.
“I’m worried that we don’t score goals. I’m not worried about anything else.”
Gionta tied it at 14:19 when he smacked in a loose puck from a scramble in front for his team-leading 19th of the season. John Madden and Brian Rafalski assisted and then teamed up on Mogilny’s 12th just seconds later.
A long shot hit off the skate of Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival and caromed right to Mogilny, who ripped it past Weekes at 14:35.
“It was better than a pass,” Mogilny said. “It was perfect.”
Madden sealed it with an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left.
“The whole team, the whole organization stepped up today,” Gomez said.
Weekes stopped 29 shots but it wasn’t enough to give the Rangers their second shutout of the season and his first since Jan. 27, 2004, at Toronto.
“We were 6 minutes away from a good win against a good team,” Weekes said. “They were hungry, obviously, with Mr. Lamoriello behind the bench.
“We almost had a victory. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Rucchin gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, redirecting in Petr Prucha’s diving shot with 5:41 left in the second period.
Rangers coach Tom Renney was not pleased with the amount of penalties his club took. Michael Nylander was the biggest culprit as he was whistled for four of the 12 called against New York.
Referee Chris Lee left briefly in the third period after being cut in the face by a flying puck. … The Rangers are 10-3-1 when outshot by their opponents. … Lamoriello will also coach Wednesday at the Islanders while searching for a permanent replacement.