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Rangers going for three straight wins tonight at MSG

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM

Associated Press

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Rangers going for three straight wins tonight at MSG
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers

• Tonight's Game Notes

The offensively-challenged New Jersey Devils are tied for last in the Eastern Conference. Things aren't about to get any easier as they embark on a six-game road trip with their highest-paid player's status up in the air.

The Devils take on the New York Rangers on Sunday night, one day after star Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch.

Kovalchuk, who signed a 15-year, $100 million contract in September after an initial 17-year, $102 million deal was rejected by the NHL for circumventing salary cap rules, is tied for the team lead with five points. However, he was held out of Saturday's 6-1 home loss to Buffalo in a very surprising move.

Devils coach John MacLean said Kovalchuk - - a six-time 40-goal scorer- - was aware of why he was benched, but did not offer any further explanation.

"I'm not discussing it," MacLean said. "It was my decision. I made it. He knows. I spoke to him and that's where it's going to stay."

Kovalchuk was unavailable for comment after the game and his status against the Rangers remains uncertain.

"I'll make that decision in the morning," MacLean said.

The Devils (2-5-1) are averaging an NHL-worst 1.75 goals per game as they were held to one goal for the fourth time this season, but aren't making excuses for their performance.

"We're all professionals, no matter who's in, who's out," right wing David Clarkson told the team's official website. "We've got to go out there and still play our game. Kovy's obviously an unbelievable player and adds so much to this team, but we've got to go out there and still play better than we did tonight."

Johan Hedberg made his first start of the season Saturday, but allowed four goals on 15 shots before being replaced by Martin Brodeur in the second period.

Brodeur stopped 12 of 14 shots, and is likely to be back in goal against the Rangers. The all-time leader in wins and shutouts has a 1.99 goals-against average in his last nine visits to Madison Square Garden, but is just 2-5-2.

While the Devils can't seem to get things together, the Rangers are coming off back-to-back wins, including 3-2 over Boston on Saturday.

Though his team recorded 37 penalty minutes, coach John Tortorella was pleased with his team's performance.

"We've got some good things in our locker room, how we handle ourselves as far as protecting one another, just the whole feeling of the locker room," he said. "But we have to maintain discipline."

The Rangers (3-2-1) received first-period goals from Artem Anisimov and Alexander Frolov, and Marc Staal added one early in the second to make it 3-1.

"Guys have been stepping up and we've been playing better, and we've come together more as a team, playing a better team game," Staal told the Rangers' official website. "It's good to see."

Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed at least three goals in each of his first four starts, recorded a season-high 35 saves en route to his first win since the season-opener.

With Lundqvist expected to be in net Sunday, the Rangers could be in position to pick up their first home victory of the season. Lundqvist is 11-2-2 with a 1.31 GAA and four shutouts against New Jersey at MSG in his career.

2010-2011 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 09 '11 NJD 2 at NYR 5 R. McDonagh
Feb 18 '11 NYR 0 at NJD 1 I. Kovalchuk
Feb 03 '11 NJD 3 at NYR 2 B. Rolston
Dec 29 '10 NYR 3 at NJD 1 M. Rozsival
Nov 05 '10 NYR 3 at NJD 0 B. Dubinsky
Oct 24 '10 NJD 1 at NYR 3 R. Callahan
I. Kovalchuk8336-3901
D. Zubrus9156-51200
J. Arnott9325-8210
Z. Parise9314+0601
M. Taormina9224-1010
T. Zajac9134+2200
P. Elias9134-8200
J. Langenbrunner9044-6600
A. Greene9033-6200
M. Corrente5022-1200
H. Tallinder9101-6400
C. White9000+1800
R. Pelley9000-11200
D. Clarkson9000-82300
A. Mair6000+0200
A. Urbom6000-3000
T. Sestito5000-1000
J. Josefson5000-1200
M. Fraser4000+0900
O. Magnan3000-1200
A. Volchenkov2000+1000
B. Rolston2000-1000
P. Letourneau-Leblond2000-22100
A. Vasyunov1000+0000
M. Brodeur92-5-1222352.69.906
J. Hedberg20-1-06247.50.750
B. Dubinsky7437+0410
M. Rozsival7246-1800
R. Callahan7156+1211
D. Stepan7325+3201
A. Anisimov7325-1011
S. Avery7055+32500
A. Frolov7224+1200
D. Girardi7123+5200
M. Del Zotto7123+4610
M. Staal7123+31001
R. Fedotenko7123+2200
B. Boyle7202+2000
E. Christensen6112+0400
M. Gaborik3022+1200
D. Boogaard7011+11200
S. Eminger5011-2800
M. Sauer4011+3000
B. Prust7000-12300
M. Gilroy5000+0000
T. White3000+0200
J. Williams1000+0000
C. Drury1000-1200
H. Lundqvist63-2-1182043.00.912
M. Biron11-0-01251.00.960 is the official Web site of the New York Rangers. New York Rangers is a trademark of MSG Holdings, L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 MSG Holdings, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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