NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at NY Rangers
(Monday, March 15th)
Final Score: New Jersey 3, NY Rangers 1
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Jan Hrdina scored his first goal for the Devils, helping New Jersey continue its domination over the New York Rangers with a 3-1 win at Madison Square Garden.
The victory allowed the Devils to improve to 3-1-1 against their cross-river rival this season. New Jersey also improved to a staggering 23-2-13-1 in the last 39 regular-season games in the series.
Martin Brodeur, who made 17 saves in this game, has been in net for each and every one of those encounters. Even more impressive is the 65 consecutive games against the Rangers that he has started, posting a 32-18-15 mark during that span.
Patrik Elias also scored for the Devils, who had lost two of their last three contests coming in.
Mike Dunham was brilliant in defeat, but even his 42 saves wasn't enough to keep the Rangers from dropping their third straight. Jozef Balej, who was acquired from Montreal in the Alexei Kovalev trade, scored his first career goal in the loss, New York's fifth in six home games.
"I really don't know what to put my finger on," Rangers interim head coach Tom Renney said of his struggling squad. "You just go play."
The domination began right when the puck was dropped, as New Jersey controlled the pace and the puck for much of the 60 minutes of play.
"It was a simple game," Devils head coach Pat Burns said. "That's all we wanted to do. The forwards were very disciplined tonight."
Stuck in their own zone for much of the first two periods, Dunham was forced to face a constant barrage of shots that came his way. He stopped 15 shots in the first period before finally being left helpless midway through the second.
Rangers defenseman Bryce Lampman had the puck in front of his own net when Hrdina stripped the defenseman. The newly acquired Hrdina, who was traded from Phoenix to New Jersey last week, easily slipped the puck past the unsuspecting Dunham for a 1-0 lead and his 12th goal of the season.
It remained a one-goal game until Elias struck for his 34th of the season early in the third period. Scott Gomez was holding the puck behind the Ranger net and spotted Elias in front. The Devils' top sniper slammed the puck through Dunham's legs just 2:57 into the third period to make it 2-0.
But the Rangers finally got one past Brodeur just minutes later when Jan Hlavac weaved into the Devils zone and slipped a nifty pass to Balej down low. The youngster waited patiently as Brodeur hit the ice, and placed the puck in the back of the net for a memorable first tally.
"I've been dreaming about this my whole life," Balej said. "When I got it, it was a great feeling."
Jay Pandolfo then put the game out of reach when he scored from the slot with just 1:30 remaining in the game.
Hrdina was traded 10 days ago in exchange for right wing Mike Rupp and a 2004 draft pick. This was his sixth game as a Devil...Brodeur, who has 10 shutouts this season, has gone 24 games without a blanking...New Jersey failed to score on four power-play opportunities, while the Rangers didn't score in their only chance with the extra skater...The Devils improved to 27-1-4-1 when leading after two periods of play.
03/15 22:56:29 ET