Rangers host Devils to begin longest homestand of season

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers hope to begin their longest home stretch of the season on a positive note when they welcome the struggling New Jersey Devils for Saturday's Metropolitan Division battle at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts began the 2013-14 season on a nine-game road trip from Oct. 3-26 while the Garden was undergoing major renovations. New York went 3-6-0 on that swing, but hopes to do much better during this homestand of the same length. However, the Rangers are just 5-6-0 as the host this season compared to a 10-8-0 mark on the road.

This homestand will run through the Christmas break, as the Rangers aren't scheduled to play another road game until they visit Washington on Dec. 27.

The Devils have won both meetings against the Rangers this season, notching a 4-0 home win on Oct. 19 before recording a 3-2 regulation decision at MSG on Nov. 12. New York had won four in a row on home ice in this series before last month's loss to the Devils.

With 30 points, the Rangers are tied with Washington for third place in the Metro Division, while the Devils are two points behind in a tie with Philadelphia.

New York enters Saturday having won two of its last three games and the club is coming off Thursday's 3-1 win in Buffalo. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves to help anchor the victory at First Niagara Center.

The Rangers No. 1 goalie almost turned in a shutout on Thursday, but a stickhandling miscue led to a late goal for the Sabres. Lundqvist, after agreeing to a seven-year contract extension on Wednesday, was working on his third shutout of the season when his failed clear led to a Tyler Ennis goal with 2:06 remaining in the third period.

Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello scored for the Rangers.

"There wasn't a lot of room," said Vigneault. "They play a really solid defensive game and we made them pay in the first period with a controlled breakout."

The Rangers, who will host Washington tomorrow evening, have lost four of their last five home games.

New Jersey will try to halt a three-game slide when it kicks off a three-game road trip on Saturday. The Devils were in action Friday night against visiting Detroit and dropped a 3-1 decision to lose for the sixth time in eight outings.

The Devils only managed to send 11 shots on net in last night's loss against the Red Wings and Jimmy Howard stopped 10 of them to hold New Jersey to one goal. It was the lowest shot total of the season for the Devils.

Andy Greene scored the only goal of the game for New Jersey, while Cory Schneider allowed all three goals on 21 shots.

"We did some good things moving the puck but we just couldn't get any shots through on net," said Schneider. "If we could have got that second one it would have been big, but they played tough."

Martin Brodeur will get the start in net for the Devils on Saturday. The future Hall of Famer is 48-30-5 with 15 ties and a superb 2.13 goals against average in 98 career games against the Rangers.

Lundqvist also has terrific career numbers against the Devils, going 28-14-5 with a 1.84 GAA in 47 lifetime tilts in this series.