By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers further distanced themselves from last week's disappointing road trip, winning their second game in as many nights Tuesday by edging the Devils 3-2 in an intense and entertaining contest at the Prudential Center. The impressive road win came 24 hours after Monday's home-ice 2-1 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Henrik Lundqvist allowed a pair of first-period goals, but was rock-solid the rest of the way backstopping the win with 29 saves, while Michael Del Zotto contributed a goal and an assist and Rick Nash scored the eventual game-winning goal, his second as a Ranger.
Johan Hedberg made his 13th consecutive start in goal for the Devils, though the previously injured Martin Brodeur was able to back him up for the first time in weeks. Hedberg made 19 saves in the game.
Nash gave the Rangers their third lead of the night scoring off the rush on right wing 7:25 into the second period, snapping a 2-2 tie. It proved to be the only goal scored by either team in the second period after a wild back-and-forth first stanza which saw four goals be scored.
The goal was Nash's team-best 10th of the season, and was assisted by Del Zotto who sprung Nash with a long lead pass from his own zone. With a full head of steam Nash snapped a shot which beat Hedberg to the far side, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Nash's go-ahead goal was preceded moments before by a sensational sequence for Lundqvist, who made three incredible saves in succession, including a pair on Ilya Kovalchuk---the last being a wide-open rebound attempt where Lundqvist made a sensational scrambling pad save.
Later in the second period Nash nearly provided the visitors a two-goal advantage, but his lower right circle wrist shot was denied as Hedberg was just able to get a glove on the shot, and the puck rolled through the crease before being swept out of danger by the Devils defense.
Del Zotto opened the scoring 11:49 into the first period, batting a right wing centering pass from Derek Stepan out of midair and into the cage while charging to the net. The goal came while the Rangers were shorthanded, and was their third shortie of the season. The goal also marked Del Zotto's 100th career point in the NHL, and was his first goal in 21 games.
The Devils tied it at 15:15 when Travis Zajac scored a power play goal from five feet out when the puck dropped at his feet and he swept it past Lundqvist.
Less than two minutes later Carl Hagelin restored the Rangers one-goal lead when he potted his eighth of the season. Stationed to the side of the net, Hagelin collected the puck after Dan Girardi purposely shot it hard off the back boards creating the carom to Hagelin who shoveled it past the out of position Hedberg at 16:50. But 23 seconds later a shot from the left point off the stick of Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov deflected off a Rangers leg or skate and past Lundqvist, tying the game 2-2 at the 17:13 mark of the opening period.
Both teams played with playoff-like intensity, with post-whistle skirmishes the norm. And more often than not it seemed the Nash and New Jersey's David Clarkson---who was flat-out robbed point blank by Lundqvist late in the middle stanza---were involved in the pushing,shoving, and grappling.
In the end it was one of the more satisfying victories the Rangers have had this season.