Devils-Rangers Preview


The New York Rangers' recent struggles at Madison Square Garden can be traced to last month's meeting with the New Jersey Devils.

Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash could be key to avenging that defeat.

The stars look to get the Rangers untracked at home while helping them avoid a third straight defeat to the Devils for the first time in almost five years Saturday night.

New York (15-14-0) has dropped four of five at MSG, starting with a 3-2 loss to the Devils (11-13-6) on Nov. 12. Prior to that, the Rangers had won four of their first six as host, giving up an average of 1.5 goals compared to 2.6 over the past five contests.

Defensive issues plagued them at New Jersey on Oct. 19, falling 4-0 and a similar effort could send New York on its first three-game regular-season slide in the series since Dec. 12, 2008-Feb. 9, 2009.

Lundqvist and Nash will try to help the Rangers avoid such a fate after both were pivotal to Thursday's 3-1 win at Buffalo.

Lundqvist made 27 saves one day after becoming the highest paid goaltender in the NHL by signing a seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension.

"He's an elite goaltender that comes up big at the right time and certainly helped us win," first-year coach Alain Vigneault said.

Nash did his part by scoring a highlight reel goal, giving him four goals and two assists in five games. The superstar left wing had one in four games after returning from a concussion that sidelined him for 17, including both with New Jersey.

He had three goals in four meetings with the Devils last season, netting a pair in a 4-0 home win April 27.

Lundqvist made 20 saves in that matchup, but has allowed seven goals on 47 shots in two this season. Still, he's 17-5-2 with a 1.39 goals-against average and six shutouts in 24 career regular-season home games in the Hudson River rivalry.

The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner will likely get the starting nod again, and he may not be very busy after the Devils tied a franchise low with 11 shots while losing 3-1 at home to Detroit on Friday.

Coach Peter DeBoer, however, is more concerned about the quality of the shots than the quantity.

"It's easy to look at the shot clock and say that (11 shots on goal is not enough)," he said. "We've generated 21 shots and generated the same amount of scoring chances. (If the shot clock says) 21, you feel better about it? It doesn't matter."

New Jersey is 2-5-1 over its past eight games, and could use some production from Jaromir Jagr.

The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer and ex-Ranger leads the team with 11 goals and 22 points, but has been kept off the scoresheet for four straight games. He has three assists versus the Rangers this season after failing to get a point in his last five.

Martin Brodeur, another 41-year-old destined for the Hall of Fame, is expected to be in net after being rested for Cory Schneider, who made 18 saves Friday.

Brodeur, though, has lost four straight starts behind a 2.82 GAA. However, he had 33 saves while winning the most recent visit to the Garden, giving him a 5-1 record and 2.18 GAA in his last six overall meetings with the Rangers, including the playoffs.

It's unclear if Damien Brunner will be available after he was a healthy scratch against the Red Wings. The right wing hasn't scored in 16 games, and has four goals in 26 contests after signing a two-year, $2.5 million free-agent contract.