It felt like a playoff game, and that’s because it basically was. There were two desperate teams at Prudential Center on Saturday night, both led by bold-named goaltenders, both of them garnering love and hate from the split crowd throughout. And in the end it was Henrik Lundqvist outdueling Martin Brodeur, yet again, leading the Rangers to a 2-0 win. “Hank’s the guy and points are hard to come by,” coach Alain Vigneault said before Lundqvist recorded career shutout No. 50, passing Eddie Giacomin and taking over atop the last remaining meaningful franchise goaltending record. “If we’re going to get in — everybody is winning right now — if we’re going to get in, it’s because Hank plays like Hank.” All Lundqvist needed was a strange sharp-angle goal from Rick Nash midway through the second period, and he did the rest carrying his team to their third in a row and their fourth in the past five. Even as the Devils hacked away, with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr getting chances in the waning seconds and Brodeur out of the New Jersey net, Lundqvist shut them down. Derek Stepan finished things off with an empty-netter with 7.8 seconds remaining. The Rangers (39-29-4) were coming off a rousing 3-1 win in Columbus on Friday night, a game that allowed them to leapfrog the Blue Jackets and into second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Devils (30-28-13) had squeaked a 4-3 overtime win over the visiting Wild on Thursday night, keeping their scant playoff hopes alive, still six points back of the final wild-card playoff spot before the game began. The Rangers took a quick hold of the game 10:33 into the second period when they came flying down the ice on a rush, the puck going from Derek Stepan on the right wing towards the crease, where Chris Kreider was crashing the net. He bumped Brodeur on his way passed, and the puck found it’s way to the far hash mark, where Rick Nash didn’t hesitate in firing one back on net, beating the unsuspecting Broduer for a 1-0 lead. Although the Devils had some chances, that’s the way the period ended, them finishing the first 40 minutes without a goal and 11 shots on net. The first 20 minutes were rife with physicality and action presumed for these rivalry games, and both goaltenders did all they could in keeping in a scoreless opening frame. First it was Lundqvist’s turn on stage, making a jaw-dropping stop on a Jagr breakaway halfway through, stretching his right pad out in a show of terrific athleticism. Nearing the end of the period, Brodeur answered with two big-time saves on Marc Staal, both of them done with his goalie stick held upside after it had been knocked out of his hand.
Rangers edge Devils for third-straight win
New York Post | Mar 23