Elias’ 2 goals and assist lift Devils over Rangers
NEW YORK (AP)—Patrik Elias had two goals and an assist to chase Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the second period and lift the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 preseason victory over New York on Saturday.
Elias staked New Jersey to a 1-0 lead just 1:32 in, stretched the advantage to 3-0 with a second-period, power-play goal, and then helped set up Brian Gionta’s tally later in the frame that pushed the margin to four and sent Lundqvist to an early exit.
Dainius Zubrus had the other goal for the Devils, scored only 3:08 after the opening faceoff and 1:36 following Elias’ first of the game.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “If you look at all of our goals, they were all 10-15 feet from the net. We did a lot of good things.”
New Jersey had a chance for more in the first period when Rangers forward Lauri Korpikoski received a major penalty for boarding defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, but the Devils managed only two shots during the five-minute power play.
Korpikoski was ejected, but the NHL rescinded the game misconduct call following the game. Brookbank wasn’t injured.
“It really created a little bit more of a puzzle than we needed,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said of the ejection. “It was a tough call, but at the same time I don’t think it was an appropriate call.”
The new Devils line of Elias, Gionta and Brian Rolston combined for three goals and four assists.
“Our line made good plays, had more chances, obviously,” Elias said. “Gio was playing really good.”
Newcomers Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev scored for the first time since joining the Rangers, who completed a stretch of six preseason games in eight days in preparation for the opening of the regular season next weekend in the Czech Republic.
The Rangers were scheduled to fly to Switzerland later Saturday and play a pair of exhibition games there during the week before a two-game, regular-season set against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague.
New Jersey scored twice in the first period, despite recording only eight shots. The Devils added two more goals on their first four shots in the second, and drove Lundqvist to the bench at 10:25 when Gionta fired the puck in from the right circle on shot No. 12.
“They waited for us to make mistakes,” said the annoyed Renney, who criticized his club’s work ethic in the game. “They capitalized on them and we made plenty of them too early.
“Today was a classic case of trying to do too much, and we weren’t working hard enough to be successful at it.”
Steve Valiquette came on in relief of Lundqvist, who had been slated to play the entire game.
“We cut his losses and maybe suggested to others that they had better step it up,” Renney said.
The Devils also took that opportunity to make a goalie switch, removing regular backup Kevin Weekes—who stopped all 10 shots he faced—and replacing him with Scott Clemmensen. Martin Brodeur didn’t dress for the game.
“Our mind-set and attitude is different,” Sutter said, “and it’s certainly encouraging.”
Scott Gomez, in his second season with the Rangers after spending his first seven with the Devils, set up Naslund’s goal with a brilliant end-to-end rush. He split two defenders in the New Jersey zone and slid a pass left-to-right into the slot to Naslund, who scored a power-play goal at 14:23.
Zherdev made it 4-2 with a short-handed tally 11:58 into the third.
New York finished with a 24-23 overall shots advantage.