|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|NJD||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The sight of one of their most bitter rivals raised hope for the Rangers that they would be able to snap a frustrating winless skid on Monday night. But instead, the Rangers dropped a 3-0 decision to the tight-checking New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, losing for the fifth consecutive contest.
The Rangers, who are 0-4-1 in their last five, have scored just five goals during the winless stretch. They have been shut out three times in their last seven matches.
“The result is what it is, we lost another game and we gave up two points to a team that’s in our division and we are chasing them,” stated Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “So, as much as this was a good effort and we did a number of things better, we can’t afford to lose a whole lot more.”
Henrik Lundqvist did his utmost to give the Rangers a chance to win this match, turning in a strong 28-save outing. He surrendered only a pair of second-period goals to Bobby Holik and Zach Parise, while Parise also scored into an empty net with Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker with 1:43 remaining in the game.
“Right now we are in a tough spot, and we need everyone to step up,” said Lundqvist. “That starts with me. I need to play the best that I can”
The red-hot Devils, who sit atop the Atlantic Division with 71 points after Monday’s victory, have now won 10 of their last 12 games.
Scott Clemmensen earned his first shutout of the season, stopping all 27 shots he faced. It was the third shutout of his NHL career, and first since the 2003-04 season.
“I think we played a solid game, and came out extremely strong,” noted defenseman Paul Mara. “But they got a couple of goals there in the second, and it’s always hard to come back against this team.”
A pair of former Rangers teamed up to help the Devils snap a scoreless tie eight minutes into the second period. From behind the Rangers’ net Brendan Shanahan chipped the puck out front where Holik pounced on it just in front of Mara and hammered the disc behind Lundqvist for his fourth goal of the season.
Before the Rangers could regain their footing following Holik’s goal, Brandon Dubinsky was penalized for holding at 8:22, and the Devils took advantage with a power-play score to up their lead to 2-0. Lundqvist was unable to cleanly catch a shot from straight away and New Jersey’s Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac kept the puck alive in front of the Rangers’ crease. The puck found Parise to Lundqvist’s right and the All-Star winger swept it into the back of the cage for his team-leading 31st goal at 9:27.
Renney called timeout at this point to settle his team down, though the Devils pressed ahead over the next several minutes before the Rangers finally were able to stem the tide. By late in the second, the Rangers were finally able to get the puck in deep and create better scoring chances. However, they headed to the dressing room after 40 minutes of play trailing 2-0.
“The idea there was to collect ourselves, make sure they had enough faith in themselves to go out and battle back and get themselves the next goal,” Renney said of his timeout.
With his team forcing Rangers forwards wide and sweeping away any rebounds that were created by shots that actually made their way through, Clemmensen had a relatively easy time of it over the first two periods of play. He stopped all 16 shots sent his way, with the most difficult saves coming on a Fredrik Sjostrom left-wing snap shot early in the game, a Scott Gomez power-play wrister from the right-wing circle that nearly snuck through early in the second, and a tricky weaving wrist shot off the stick of Blair Betts a few minutes later.
Nikolai Zherdev, who scored twice on Friday night in Dallas, nearly put the Rangers on the scoreboard 1:22 into the middle stanza, but his snap shot from the right circle after an offensive-zone faceoff win hit flush against the far post and bounced harmlessly away.
Their failure to take advantage of four power plays in the first period -- and five total on the night -- came back to haunt the Rangers when the Devils scored twice midway through the second. The Rangers have scored just one power-play goal in their last 17 opportunities, including Monday’s contest.
“For whatever reason, the urgency just isn’t there on the power play,” said Gomez. “I think right now we are not doing everything with authority, especially on the power play where you need to work even harder.”
Lundqvist was tested far more often than Clemmensen, and was solid stopping all 13 shots he faced in the opening stanza and seven of nine in the second period. He made a terrific pad save in robbing John Madden on the doorstep at 11:30 of the first, and, after losing his stick in the process, denied Madden again during the same sequence 20 seconds later.
Before the first period was over, Lundqvist showed amazing reflexes by adjusting to a perfect Shanahan deflection in front, robbing his former teammate with a lightning-quick left pad stop at 18:37.
Perhaps Lundqvist’s best save was a sensational right-toe stop while falling into the splits to deny Patrick Elias’ wide-open attempt from the door-step to Lundqvist’s right 4:21 into the middle period.
Both teams showed plenty of fight -- literally and figuratively -- in a physical first two periods. Gomez waged a one-on-one war the entire time with New Jersey’s Dainius Zubrus, complete with slashes in the faceoff circle and coincidental minors in the second. And a pair of fights --one in each period -- sparked the respective teams and brought the crowd to their collective feet.
In the first period, Erik Reitz challenged David Clarkson after a center-ice staredown between Clarkson and Mara. Clarkson landed the last decisive blow after an even bout. In the second, Colton Orr flattened Mike Rupp with a clean one-punch knockout that left Rupp in a heap on the ice.
“We were involved today and were much more physical, which is good, I think,” said Lundqvist. “We can do it even more, though. I think when things are going tough the best thing to do is get more physical and more involved in everything, and then good things will happen.”
The Rangers will try and break this winless skid on Wednesday night when they return to Madison Square Garden to host the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals.
|Bobby Holik (4) ASST: Brendan Shanahan (2), Patrik Elias (39)|
1 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Zach Parise (31) ASST: Travis Zajac (29), Jamie Langenbrunner (29)|
2 - 0 NJD
|EN - Zach Parise (32) ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner (30), Travis Zajac (30)|
3 - 0 NJD
|Colin White Hi-sticking against Nikolay Zherdev|
|Markus Naslund Hooking against Paul Martin|
|Zach Parise Interference - Goalkeeper against Henrik Lundqvist|
|Brian Rolston Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Brian Rolston|
|Dainius Zubrus Holding against Lauri Korpikoski|
|David Clarkson Fighting against Erik Reitz|
|Erik Reitz Fighting against David Clarkson|
|Mike Rupp Interference against Blair Betts|
|Colton Orr Fighting against Mike Rupp|
|Mike Rupp Fighting against Colton Orr|
|Dainius Zubrus Boarding against Scott Gomez|
|Scott Gomez Roughing against Dainius Zubrus|
|Brandon Dubinsky Holding against Zach Parise|
|Scott Gomez Tripping against Zach Parise|
|Dainius Zubrus Hooking against Markus Naslund|
|Wade Redden Hooking against Brendan Shanahan|
|Fredrik Sjostrom Interference against John Madden|
|SA: 30||TOI: 58:31|
|Saves: 28||EV: 22 - 23|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .933||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:57|
|Saves: 27||EV: 22 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 5|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 0 - 0|