NEW YORK (AP) The New York Rangers are starting to make a stretch run, and they are doing it with a couple of key players sidelined.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves and the Rangers posted their first three-game winning streak since November with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
“The way we are playing, it’s paying off in different ways,” Lundqvist said. “Guys are playing really well and scoring big goals at the right time, and as a group, I feel like we are doing a lot of good things.”
The Rangers were exceptional with their forechecking, either pinning the Devils in their own end or making steals to set up scoring chances.
Kevin Klein, who broke a thumb last week, scored for the first time in 28 games and the streaking J.T. Miller scored for the ninth time in 10 games while the Rangers beat the Devils for the first time in three games this season.
This win was New York’s fifth straight victory at Madison Square Garden, and the Rangers are 7-3 in their last 10 overall.
“What we did tonight was everyone just kind of stepped up and ate a few more minutes out there,” veteran Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “We weren’t too flashy out there. We kept is simple, kept the play in their end as long as we could. It was a good effort.”
“In the end we showed some signs of life,” Schneider said. “We made it a game when short-handed no less. We didn’t give up, but I think we waited about 50 minutes too long to have that urgency and drive.”
While the score was close, the Rangers totally outplayed New Jersey in what was a test with McDonagh and Nash out.
Zajac scored with the Rangers on their fifth fruitless power play. That and Schneider’s goaltending made the final minutes interesting.
Lundqvist had a relatively easy night before that. His best saves came late in the second period. He stopped Reid Boucher 1-on-1 after the forward was set up by Zajac. The Swede also stopped a flurry with less than six minutes left in the third, making a pad save on defenseman Andy Greene on a shot from inside the right circle.
Klein broke his right thumb late in a loss to the Devils on Tuesday and then sat out one game. He got his first goal since Nov. 3 and fourth of the season early in the second period.
“He’s a real strong guy and he is obviously playing through something right now,” Girardi said of Klein. “He shows the guys how much he wants to win and everyone follows that lead. We are all rallying around everyone here, trying to put a few wins together. It feels good.”
Mats Zuccarello did most of the work on Klein’s goal. He got between two Devils for a loose puck along the right boards, cut across the crease and found Klein in the left circle for a shot into an open net. Marc Staal got his first assist in 18 games on the play.
Miller extended his career-best goal total to 17 when he scored at 4:37 of the third period. He took a drop pass from Derick Brassard and beat Schneider.
“Tonight is one of those examples where I am just trying to get the puck on net,” Miller said. “I’m really not thinking about scoring from there and it happens to go in.”
Schneider withstood two Rangers’ power plays and 17 shots in a scoreless first period. Derek Stepan had a breakaway in the period and Keith Yandle had four of the seven shots by New York’s defensemen.
“It’s a stinker. There’s nothing you can take from this game,” Devils defenseman John Moore said.
NOTES: Rangers C Kevin Hayes was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty during a power play for pitch-forking a broken stick over the glass into the stands. … D Damon Severson and Fs Stefan Matteau and Tuomo Ruutu were healthy scratches for the Devils. … New Jersey will retire goaltender Marty Brodeur’s jersey on Tuesday. … D Dan Girardi skated in his 698th career game with the Rangers, tying Mark Messier and Steve Vickers for 11th place on the franchise’s career games played list. … With McDonagh missing the game, only Miller, Staal, Zuccarello and Yandle have played in all 53 games for the Rangers. … The Devils have not beaten the Rangers three times in a row since 2013.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
–Devils fans say “thank you” to former goaltender Martin Brodeur:
The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.
“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.
“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”
More on the statue from the Devils:
The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.
Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.
Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.
“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”
“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.
“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”
The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.