A rematch of the Eastern Conference finals is on tap Tuesday evening, as the New Jersey Devils host the New York Rangers in the first meeting between the clubs this season.
The Devils ousted top-seeded New York in six games last spring to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they were dispatched in six games by Los Angeles. Prior to battling in the playoffs, the Rangers and Devils split six regular-season meetings in 2011-12.
Although they haven't played since Saturday's win in Tampa, the Rangers had a busy off day on Monday. New York traded Mike Rupp to the Minnesota Wild for fellow forwards Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri and also recalled a pair of players from the club's AHL affiliate.
Rupp, who won a Stanley Cup title with New Jersey in 2003, had no points and 12 penalty minutes in eight games for the Rangers this season. Powe also had no points in eight games with the Wild, but he adds value as a penalty-killer and could be in the lineup for head coach John Tortorella on Tuesday. Palmieri has spent the entire season with Minnesota's AHL affiliate in Houston and he'll be sent to the Rangers' minor league team in Connecticut.
Also on Monday, the Rangers recalled forwards J.T. Miller and Brandon Mashinter from Connecticut while sending winger Benn Ferriero to the AHL club. Miller, the 15th overall pick of the 2011 draft, was the leading scorer for Team USA in its gold-medal run at this year's World Junior Championships and he could make his NHL debut on Tuesday.
The Rangers enter this matchup with the Devils having won three of their last four games. Most recently, the Blueshirts were 3-2 winners over the Lightning on Saturday, as Carl Hagelin's third-period goal proved to be the difference for the visiting club. It was Tampa Bay's first home loss of the season.
Derek Stepan and Rick Nash each scored once, while Taylor Pyatt added a pair of assists for the Rangers. It was just the second goal of the season for Nash, who was acquired over the summer in a blockbuster trade with Columbus.
"It always feels good to score, but mainly it was the win that felt the best," Nash said. "It was a big win."
Martin Biron got the start in place of Henrik Lundqvist and stopped 30 shots to earn the victory. Lundqvist is expected to start on Tuesday and he is 25-11-5 with a 1.79 goals against average in 41 career games against the Devils.
On the injury front, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is expected to miss a third straight game with a shoulder injury.
The Devils ended a four-game losing streak in their last outing, posting a 3-0 road win over the New York Islanders.
Steve Bernier scored two goals for Jersey and Johan Hedberg made 22 saves for the 22nd shutout of his career.
All three of New Jersey's goals came late in the third period, beginning with Bernier's power-play tally with 3:54 left. Bernier made it 2-0 just 70 seconds later and David Clarkson sealed the win with an empty-netter.
"We're going to have to have contributions from all kinds of different people," Devils head coach Pete DeBoer said. "It's nice to be able to get the win."
Martin Brodeur is expected to be back in net for the Devils on Tuesday. The 40-year-old backstop began the season 3-0, but has yielded a total of 14 goals in going 0-1-2 over his last three outings.
Tuesday's tilt kicks off a three-game homestand at the Prudential Center, where the Devils are 2-0-1 on the season. Jersey has also won three of its last four home games against the Rangers in the regular season. The Devils went 2-1 against New York at the Rock in last year's playoff series.