Rangers take 2-0 lead over Devils

April 11, 2008 7:17:48 PM PDT
Henrik Lundqvist and another flukey goal have the New York Rangers halfway to the second round, and the New Jersey Devils wondering what they have to do to beat their longtime rival.Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery scored 23 seconds apart early in the third period and Lundqvist made 26 saves in beating the Devils yet again in a 2-1 victory Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

The win was the Rangers' ninth in 10 games against New Jersey this season, and it gives New York a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that will shift across the river for Game 3 on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Devils face a long road back. The Rangers have never lost a best-of-seven series in which they have led 2-0.

New Jersey has lost 4 of the 5 series in which it fell behind 2-0. Its only comeback was in 1994 in the Eastern Conference semifinals after losing the first two games at home to Boston.

Game 2 was similar to almost every other game between the teams this season. It was close until the third period, then the Rangers took over, taking 17 shots.

Jagr broke a scoreless tie with another tally that left Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur shaking his head.

Michal Rozsival took a shot from the point that deflected behind the Devils' goal line. Jagr outmuscled defenseman Colin White for the loose puck and skated behind the net and came out the left side with White in pursuit.

Jagr skated to the faceoff circle, spun and fired a shot. As White came out from behind the net, he nudged Brodeur and it knocked the goalie slightly off the goalpost.

Jagr's shot hit Brodeur in the back and went into the goal.

Avery doubled the lead before the crowd had time to settle.

Scott Gomez, who had three assists in New York's 4-1 win in Game 1, won a faceoff. The puck went back to the point where Daniel Gerardi took a shot that deflected off Devils forward Patrik Elias. The puck went to Avery, who slapped a shot over Brodeur's glove.

John Madden finally put the Devils on the board with 1:23 to play, deflecting Elias' slap shot between Lundqvist's pads with Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater.

It was only the Devils' 11th goal in 10 games against the Swedish goalie this season.

Lundqvist had to make a good glove save through a crowd on a slapshot by Paul Martin with 57 seconds to play.

The Devils didn't have another good chance after Zach Parise was penalized.

Devils coach Brent Sutter later broke a stick over the bench after an apparent hooking penalty by Blair Betts of the Rangers was not called.

The first two periods were exactly what everyone predicted before the series started, scoreless, tight checking, a little chippy and dominated by the goaltenders.

There were five sets of coincidental penalties in the second period, including two scrums which resulted in two players from each team being sent off.

The last one started after Dainius Zubrus skate sprayed Lundqvist with snow in the crease.

As Brandon Dubinsky and Zubrus wrestled behind the net, Lundqvist casually slapped Zubrus on the back of the helmet and the organist played "Why Can't We Be Friends."

As for the hockey, the Devils had most of the good scoring chances.

Lundqvist stopped Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner twice in good chances in the first period and he made a nice stop of defenseman Paul Martin on a power play point shot early in the second.

Devils defensemen Johnny Oduya and Mike Mottau had the best defensive plays, breaking up 2-on-1 chances with sliding stops.


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