The surging New York Rangers have pulled it together after an ugly start. The New Jersey Devils may finally be doing the same.
Looking for their seventh win in eight games Tuesday night, the Rangers host a Devils team that's shut down opponents during a three-game unbeaten streak.
New York (9-8-0) continued to make its forgettable first 10 games an increasingly distant memory Sunday, defeating Florida 4-3. Four Rangers scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 shots as the club won its third straight.
"I think the last couple of weeks, I think we've put more pressure on ourselves to do well every night," said Lundqvist, 4-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average in his last five games. "... It comes down to knowing that you're gonna do it. You talk about it, you sit here and then you just go out and do it. You trust yourself, you trust your teammates and the system and it's been working for us lately."
New York gave up more than two goals for the first time in 10 games, but Mats Zuccarello's power-play goal in the third period was the winner. The forward has a goal and seven assists in his past seven contests.
'It seemed like one of those nights where you wonder if something was against you," said center Brad Richards, who scored to give him a goal and four assists in the past three contests. ' ... We've been winning lately, which brings the mood of everybody up.'
New York is 6 for 24 with the man advantage in its past seven games.
The Devils' mood also is better after their past three games, during which they've given up one goal in regulation. Martin Brodeur returned to the net Sunday after Cory Schneider started a 2-1 shootout loss to Toronto on Friday and posted his second straight shutout, 5-0 over Nashville.
Brodeur only needed to make 15 saves, and New Jersey (5-7-5) outshot the Predators 12-4 in the second period.
The Devils' last three games came in a four-day span.
"We've played well. Scoring has been always a little bit of an issue, today it's a little breakout," Brodeur said. "Hopefully we left some (goals) for next game."
The Devils' 35 goals are among the fewest in the league, but they had few problems in their first meeting with the Rangers this season, a 4-0 victory with Schneider in net Oct. 19. That dropped New York to 2-5-0.
New Jersey has given up two or fewer goals in six of the past seven games, allowing an average of 24.6 shots in that span.
"I think I've said for two or three weeks here, I like our defensive structure where most nights we're giving up around 20 shots a night, which gives you a chance to win every night with our goaltending," coach Peter DeBoer said.
The Rangers don't seem likely to see Schneider this time, with Brodeur set to make his 98th regular-season start against New York - his most against any team. He's had mixed results in his past six regular-season meetings with the Rangers, giving up one or no goals in four of them but allowing four goals in two of the previous three.
Lundqvist started Oct. 19 and made 15 saves in a defeat that ended New York's three-game winning streak over New Jersey. He had posted a 1.00 GAA during those three victories.
The Devils have dropped four in a row and seven of nine at Madison Square Garden in the regular season.
The Associated Press News Service
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