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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rangers' Lundqvist brilliant in win over Devils


Sunday, February 7, 2010

NEW YORK — There were no late miracles for the Devils this time. Henrik Lundqvist saw to that.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) stops a shot on the goal from Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk during the first period of Saturday nights game.
“It’s frustrating we couldn’t get another one by him,” Devils left wing Zach Parise said. “You’re not going to have too many games like that when you have that many shots and chances and only one goes in. It seems like Lundqvist saves his best for us.”

That’s certainly true lately. Lundqvist, brilliant with his glove all game, stopped 41 shots – 19 in the third period - as the Rangers scored three times in a span of 2:39 in the second period for a 3-1 win Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

It marked Lundqvist’s first win in his last seven starts, and he has stopped 86 of the last 87 shots he’s faced against the Devils, including a 1-0 shootout loss on Jan. 12.

The Rangers (26-26-7), who got a goal and an assist from Ryan Callahan and another power-play goal after going 4-for-6 with the man advantage in Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Capitals, won for just the second time in nine games.

“I’ve been working hard, sometimes almost too hard to get back and help the team to win,” Lundqvist said. “It’s a big relief to get a win. I’m happy with the way I played and I’m really happy with the way the team played.”

The Devils (36-19-2), who had Patrik Elias back after his 10-game absence because of a concussion and on a line with newly acquired sniper Ilya Kovalchuk, had scored three goals in the final 3:04 to beat the Maple Leafs, 4-3, Friday.

They got one-third of the way there Saturday as Dainius Zubrus ended Lundqvist’s bid for a fifth career shutout against the Devils at 11:11 of the third period, getting free in the slot and taking a pass from Elias.

“I think it balances their lines out,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said, referring to the addition of Kovalchuk and Elias. “You’ve got the Parise-[Travis] Zajac-[Jamie] Langenbrunner line and now you’ve got a 1-2 punch so now you’re thinking about that when you’re defending.”

But Lundqvist, 17-6-5 in his career against the Devils, turned aside all of Kovalchuk’s game-high eight shots and also snatched Mike Mottau’s rebound attempt at 7:04 of the third period despite initially not seeing where the puck went.

“I think we had great chances,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “Their goalie was great.”

Kovalchuk’s night ended when he scrapped with Devils’ nemesis Sean Avery at 17:44 of the third period with both receiving four minutes for roughing.

Lundqvist was sharp from the start, his best first-period stop coming at 18:58 when he gloved Rob Niedermayer’s shot from the slot off a short-handed two-on-one with Jay Pandolfo against Olli Jokinen.

He also gloved Mottau’s shot from the slot at 9:36 and alertly smothered Kovalchuk’s redirection attempt of Elias’ pass at 1:33.

Marian Gaborik started the Rangers’ second-period blitz at 7:20 on the Rangers’ first shot of the period when he tapped in Callahan’s pass to the post for a power-play goal. It ended a pinpoint passing sequence, with Michael Del Zotto finding Callahan in the right faceoff circle.

“It’s big when you know Hank is on his game,” Callahan said. “We’re going to have a great chance to win if we get one goal, maybe even two.”

Callahan made it 2-0 at 8:16 with an unassisted goal after Mottau failed to clear the puck from the Devils’ crease with his backhander. Chris Drury, who had gone eight games without a goal, completed the barrage at 9:59 off Matt Gilroy’s pass with Brandon Prust getting his first assist with the Rangers since being acquired along with Jokinen on Tuesday.

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