Devils aim to keep rolling against East-leading Rangers
The New Jersey Devils have matched their longest winning leading New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Devils have used a potent offensive attack to record wins in each of their last four games, matching a streak from Dec. 12-17. New Jersey has notched 20 goals in its last four trips to the ice and it posted a pair of key wins over Atlantic Division rivals over the weekend.
New Jersey jumped out to a 6-0 lead in Philadelphia on Saturday and held on for a 6-4 win over the Flyers. The Devils then posted a 5-2 triumph Sunday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
With 60 points, the Devils are seeded sixth in the East, but are also fourth in the Atlantic, where they are one point behind Pittsburgh and three in back of Philadelphia. The Rangers, meanwhile, are five points ahead of Philly and eight in front of Jersey.
New York has also been hot lately, winning four of its last five (4-0-1). The only setback for the Rangers during that stretch came in a shootout loss in New Jersey last Tuesday. The Blueshirts have still taken six of the last nine meetings with the Devils overall and New York has claimed three of the last four matchups in the Big Apple.
One player who has clearly made a difference for New Jersey during its current winning streak is Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian forward had a goal and two assists in Sunday's decisive win over the Penguins and now has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in his last four games.
"We are consistently doing the right things," said Kovalchuk. "We create a lot of chances and defensively we didn't give much."
Zach Parise also had a goal and an assist in the victory over the Pens, while Anton Volchenkov and Dainius Zubrus also found the back of the net. Both Parise and fellow forward Patrik Elias are riding five-game point streaks.
Martin Brodeur made 28 saves to post Sunday's win and he also added an assist on David Clarkson's empty netter.
The Devils have won three straight and four of their last five on the road and are 15-10-1 as the guest this season.
New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson (back) and forward Ryan Carter (hand) are questionable for tonight's game. Both players were injured in last Tuesday's game against the Rangers.
New York has won two straight since dropping last week's shootout decision against the Devils. The Rangers are coming off Sunday's impressive 5-2 rout of the visiting Flyers. Artem Anisimov had a goal and two assists to lead the New York to the easy win over their division rivals.
Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist while Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko all scored for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist, who had posted shutouts in his previous two starts, allowed two goals on 23 shots in the win.
"I think we know how important these games are," said Gaborik. "We come with a lot of energy and stick with our system. We have played very well against them this year and this game was one of them."
Lundqvist is expected to be back in net tonight to face the Devils. New York's No. 1 netminder had made 32 consecutive starts in the series with New Jersey before Martin Biron received the call last Tuesday. Biron is 8-15-3 with a pair of ties in his career against the Devils, while Lundqvist has built a stellar 23-9-5 record versus New Jersey.
The Rangers began a three-game homestand on Sunday and are 16-5-2 as the host this year.