Devils aim to frustrate Rangers in New Jersey

The New Jersey Devils will be without goaltender Martin Brodeur for at least one more game.

That's just fine with the New York Rangers.

The two playoff-hope clubs meet for the second time this season as the Devils play host to a Rangers club that has struggled to score goals lately.

Brodeur has not played since Feb. 21 because of a pinched nerve in his upper back. He stopped 17 shots in a win at Washington and was scheduled to start three days later against Winnipeg after Johan Hedberg had gotten the call one day earlier in a rematch with the Caps.

However, Brodeur was scratched from that start and landed on injured reserve soon after. That has led to Hedberg making a career-high 12 straight starts and the Devils are just 3-7-2 in that span.

The 40-year-old Brodeur returned to practice on Monday and won't start versus the Rangers, but could serve as the backup with an eye towards playing against Carolina on Thursday.

"Let's how he feels in the morning and decide whether he'll back up," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer on Monday. "I'm not going to rush him or force him into that."

Brodeur owns a record of 8-2-3 with a 2.27 goals against average and one shutout in 13 games this season and the Devils have fallen into a tie for sixth in the Eastern Conference with Toronto and Winnipeg. Those three teams have 32 points each, two more than the ninth-place Rangers.

Brodeur made 24 saves and David Clarkson scored twice with an assist in a 3-1 win over New York back on Feb. 5 in New Jersey. The two clubs have split their last eight meetings, but the Rangers have lost three straight and four of their last five as the guest in this series.

Henrik Lundqvist gave up all three goals on 22 shots versus the Devils, but helped his team snap a three-game slide on Monday night with a 2-1 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blueshirts' netminder gave up a goal late in the first period, but was perfect the rest of the way, ending with 29 saves and stopping both skaters he faced in the shootout.

"We worked really hard and they started the game really well," Lundqvist said. "I thought we played a lot better in the second and third periods. It wasn't our best game but we found a way to win and that's what we need to do right now. I don't care how we do it as long as we get points."

Rick Nash and J.T. Miller scored in the shootout for the Rangers, while Derek Stepan had the regulation goal in the second period.

It marked the sixth time in New York's last seven games it was held to a pair of goals or fewer and it scored just twice over its recent three-game slide.

The Devils will try to frustrate the Rangers' offense again tonight and avoid their own third straight loss. They were last in action on Saturday when they lost a 2-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens.

Hedberg made 20 saves as the Devils lost in regulation for the first time in four games.

"We knew it was going to be tight against this team because they're really good at defense," said Hedberg, who was beaten for the game-winner early in the third on a tip-in. "We just couldn't push through and get that equalizer."

Peter Harrold scored the lone New Jersey goal.