By LARRY BROOKS
It was a night on which all the King's men played well, but let's face it, far more often that not the Rangers are Humpty Dumptys unless the King himself is at the top of his game.
And that, friends, is just where Henrik Lundqvist was last night in outplaying Martin Brodeur, his rival from across the river, and backstopping the Blueshirts to a 3-1 Garden victory over the Devils just 48 hours after yielding six goals to the Capitals.
"I usually go over every tape, but there are some games you just have to let go because it's hard to find the answers," Lundqvist said after breaking a personal 0-6 streak in gaining his first victory since Jan. 19. "That type of game [against Washington] where that are that many mistakes, you just move on.
"[The losing streak] was weighing on me a little bit. I had been working hard but maybe too hard. It's a relief for me to get this win. . . . I'm very happy with the way I played and the team played."
The Rangers were resolute in gaining just their second victory (2-7) in nine games, taking care of all the details they had let slide in blowing a 5-3 lead on the way to a 6-5 defeat on Thursday against Washington. They were strong on the puck and, except for some power play confusion, kept odd-man rushes to a minimum. They also stopped the parade to the penalty box.
"With all due respect to Washington, we gave that game away by taking penalties," said Vinny Prospal. "It was a very painful loss. We were committed to not letting that happen again."
Rangers coach John Tortorella matched all night by sending distinct five-man units out against the Devils' top two units. The strategy was as much a winner as Lundqvist, who stopped 22 shots through the first 40 minutes before facing a 20-shot assault in the third, when he surrendered his shutout at 11:11.
The Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik-Prospal unit played with the Marc Staal-Michal Rozsival defense pair against the Devils' Travis Zajac-Zach Parise-Jamie Langenbrunner line. The Olli Jokinen-Ryan Callahan-Brandon Dubinsky line played with the Michael Del Zotto-Dan Girardi pair against the Dainius Zubrus-Ilya Kovalchuk-Patrik Elias front line.
"It was kind of a surprise for me because I didn't play against Kovalchuk in the two games against Atlanta," said Del Zotto. "It's a lot of fun and a big challenge to play against a great players like he is.
"I just concentrated on not getting caught. I thought we did a really good job as a unit."
The penalty-kill was outstanding, especially through a stretch of 3:44 with the match scoreless early in the second that set the stage for a three-strike explosion within 2:39 soon after.
The scoreless tie was snapped on Gaborik's PP slam-dunk at the left porch at 7:20 to complete a brilliant passing play during which all five attackers moved the puck in the offensive zone before The Great Gabby got his 35th by converting Callahan's nifty backdoor feed.
It became 2-0 at 8:16 on Callahan's 35-foot drive that found net following a Devils' defensive zone turnover and then 3-0 at 9:59 when Chris Drury's wrist shot caught Brodeur moving in the wrong direction.
The Rangers, of course, have been moving in the wrong direction. But not last night, not on a night where all The King's Men were led by the King himself.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/rangers/back_on_his_horse_EfNWKyWicZDqXTs8a1F8pI#ixzz0euXGt8Ky
18 minutes ago