NHL Game Summary - NY Rangers at New Jersey
(Tuesday, February 20th)
Final Score: New Jersey 2, NY Rangers 1
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Zach Parise scored the game-winning goal in the third period and Martin Brodeur made 35 saves, as the New Jersey Devils edged the New York Rangers, 2-1, in the start of a home-and-home series.
Brian Rafalski also scored and Scott Gomez added a pair of helpers for New Jersey, which has won three of four. The Devils were without the services of their leading point-scorer, Patrik Elias, as well as leading goal-scorer, Brian Gionta. Elias sat out with the flu, while Gionta was sidelined with a groin injury.
Petr Prucha had the lone tally for New York, which lost for just the second time in its last six games. Henrik Lundqvist was solid in net, making 24 saves.
With the game tied, 1-1, New York rode the momentum into the third period, putting heavy pressure on Brodeur before the Rangers' Colton Orr dropped the gloves with Cam Janssen. Orr landed a couple of solid blows and took Janssen to the ice, though both players were clearly tiring in the end.
New Jersey then turned the game around, as Brodeur came up with a couple of huge saves before the Devils went the other way in an odd-man rush. Gomez was leading the charge, but it was Parise who failed on the backhand, collected his own rebound off the right side of the net and flipped it over the goal line with 7:54 remaining.
"I was just trying to throw it out in front," Parise said of the goal. "Good things can happen when you do that. Initially, I wanted to see if maybe there was someone in front of the net that could tap it in or something, and it got a lucky bounce."
Brodeur came up with some crucial saves down the stretch, including a late flurry with under a minute remaining. The Rangers pulled Lundqvist in favor of the extra attacker, but failed to convert on the man-advantage.
New Jersey opened the scoring in the first period on Rafalski's tally. Sergei Brylin drew a crowd below the right circle before dishing cross-ice, with the feed glancing off the skate and through the legs of Gomez. Rafalski read the one-timer perfectly, and from all alone in the slot, rifled a slapshot off the left post and past Lundqvist on the stick-side at 8:16.
The Blueshirts pulled even with just three minutes left in the middle stanza, but the controversial score nearly ignited a brawl.
Rangers' forward Sean Avery was camped just in front of the crease and appeared to make contact with Brodeur, who failed to stop a slapshot by Aaron Ward that deflected off the skate of Prucha and into the net.
Brodeur and Avery briefly jawed at one another, before Brodeur pushed the left winger. Avery then returned the favor by sending Brodeur to the ice, but several players came to the netminder's aid, including Rafalski, Brylin and John Madden. Avery was whistled for goaltender interference and roughing, while Rafalski was also given a minor for his part in the skirmish.
"What am I going to do that's going to hurt him?" said Brodeur after the game. "Seriously, I don't do anything. I don't even lift weights. I'm not going to hurt somebody. I just want to play my game. I want to be strong and be competitive. When guys are around you, you protect your space."
The teams will meet again Thursday night at Madison Square Garden...New York was also missing its leading goal-scorer, as Brendan Shanahan continues to recover from a concussion suffered Saturday against Philadelphia...The game marked the last time these teams will face each other in the Meadowlands. New Jersey will move to a brand new arena next season...Jaromir Jagr had a six- game point streak snapped for New York...The Devils lead the season series, 4-2-1.
02/20 23:18:10 ET