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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 6th (All times eastern)

New Jersey Devils (36-18-2) at New York Rangers (25-26-7), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils will try to win a second straight game since trading for Ilya Kovalchuk when they visit the rival New York Rangers for tonight's Atlantic Division clash at Madison Square Garden.

The Devils picked up a thrilling comeback win over Toronto on Friday night as Kovalchuk, who was acquired in Thursday's blockbuster trade with Atlanta, made his Devils debut in front of the home crowd at Prudential Center.

However, it was Jay Pandolfo and not New Jersey's new Russian sniper who was the hero on Friday. Pandolfo's goal with 18.9 seconds remaining in regulation capped a furious comeback that saw the Devils score three times in the final three minutes to post a thrilling 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs. The game marked the finale of a home-and-home series between the clubs.

Kovalchuk picked up two assists, including the secondary helper on Travis Zajac's power-play goal that tied the game with 44 seconds to play and New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur on the bench.

"It wasn't my best game, but we got the two points," Kovalchuk said. "It doesn't matter how, we got the two points in the bank and we're going to move on."

Dean McAmmond and Dainius Zubrus also tallied for the Devils, who were blanked in Toronto on Tuesday for their eighth loss in 11 games. Brodeur made 17 saves in the win.

The Devils, who hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic, have a 17-9-2 record as the guest this year. Jersey will complete a two-game trip with Monday's stop in Philadelphia.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have done little of late to help themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New York, which has dropped two straight and seven of its last eight games, is tied for ninth in the East but is also just two points out of the conference's final playoff spots.

New York's most recent setback came Thursday in a high-scoring affair against the visiting Washington Capitals. The Rangers led 5-4 after two periods, but Tom Poti and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the final 20 minutes to lead Washington to the close 6-5 win.

Vinny Prospal had two goals and two assists to lead the Rangers, who scored four power-play goals after notching zero in their previous seven games. Olli Jokinen, who was acquired earlier this week in a trade with Calgary, recorded his first points for New York, tallying a goal and an assist.

"The bottom line is that I have to help this team win hockey games," Jokinen said. "We have to find a way to win because everyone knows where we are in the standings. We have to play every game as a playoff game. We have to take something positive out of every game - we scored five tonight. We have to play a lot better defensively."

Ryan Callahan had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Dubinsky also scored for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist was assaulted for six goals on 32 shots in defeat.

Tonight marks the middle test of a three-game homestand for the Rangers, who are 12-14-4 as the host this year. New York will close out the swing Wednesday at Nashville.

The Devils have won two of three meetings with New York this year, including both encounters in the Big Apple. New Jersey has won five of seven overall in the series and has taken three of four at MSG.

02/06 11:04:21 ET


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