Devils win slugfest over Rangers

December 12, 2008 7:12:59 PM PST
Patrik Elias scored with 8:31 left to rescue the New Jersey Devils, who squandered a four-goal lead yet managed to finally beat the New York Rangers, 8-5 on Friday night. Just 11 seconds after Ryan Callahan got the Rangers even at 5, Elias put the Devils in front again. Brian Gionta built the lead back up to two goals just 1:35 later and gave New Jersey its first regular-season win over the Rangers in 12 tries.

The Devils' second onslaught of the game culminated with Jamie Langenbrunner's goal with 4:53 remaining, capping a spurt in which they scored three times in 3:38.

New Jersey appeared to have things well in hand with a three-goal second period that created a 5-1 lead. The Devils stormed in front by taking advantage of the Rangers' putrid power play that generated two short-handed goals for New Jersey and nothing for New York in nine opportunities.

Travis Zajac scored twice, Gionta had a goal and three assists, Dainius Zubrus and Elias both added a goal and two assists, Langenbrunner had one of each, and Zach Parise set up four goals in the Devils' highest-scoring game this season.

Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and three assists for the Rangers.

In a bizarre high-scoring game that looked nothing like most matchups between the cross-river rivals, New Jersey finally figured out Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who absorbed all the punishment.

The Devils stretched their winning streak to four, all against teams with better records, and did it with offense. They had yielded only four goals in the previous three wins. New Jersey closed within six points of the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers.

New York lost for the fourth time in six games and has been outscored 25-12 in that stretch. Lundqvist had never allowed more than three goals to the Devils, and in 11 starts against them before Friday, he had a 1.24 goals-against average and two shutouts.

With injured Devils goalie Martin Brodeur watching, Scott Clemmensen made his first start against the Rangers since a shootout loss on Nov. 5, 2005. Clemmensen has wrested the job away from Kevin Weekes by going 7-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average in the eight starts before this outburst of offense.

The Rangers outshot the Devils 36-34 in a game that featured four fights, including bouts in each of the three periods.

New York had been 9-0-2 in the 11 previous meetings and had outscored New Jersey 9-3 in two wins this season.

After falling behind 5-1, the Rangers rallied to get within a goal when Paul Mara scored just 1:28 into the third. Callahan gave New York brief hope when he tied it, but the Devils quickly snuffed that out.

The Rangers have scored only once in their past 29 power-play chances and have given up an NHL-worst 10 short-handed goals this season. New York has scored just 21 times with the advantage this season.

Jay Pandolfo gave the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first period with a short-handed goal, and Zajac added a power-play tally in the frame. New Jersey broke it open in the second, including even-strength scores by Zajac and Dainius Zubrus, and another short-handed strike from Johnny Oduya.

After entering the second period down only 2-1, the Rangers staged a late rally in the period to get within 5-3. Zherdev had a goal and assist 2:36 apart - setting up Scott Gomez's goal at 18:22 of the second after Gomez assisted on his tally. Markus Naslund had gotten the Rangers even at 1 in the first.


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