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GAME: New York Rangers (20-24-7-4) at New Jersey Devils (28-15-10-1).
TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The New York Rangers can ill-afford any prolonged losing streaks if they are to get back to the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
But they can't be happy about opening the second half against the New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers will try to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race when they take on the defending Stanley Cup champs at Continental Airlines Arena.
New York entered the All-Star break off a 4-3 loss to Minnesota last Wednesday, and has won just two of its last 12 games (2-8-2). The Rangers, whose last taste of the postseason was a five-game loss to Philadelphia in the 1996-97 conference finals, trail the eighth-place Islanders by nine points with 27 games to play.
History suggests the Rangers have little chance of making up any ground on Wednesday as they have just one win in their last 17 trips to the Meadowlands (1-14-2), and are winless in their last 11 games in the series overall (0-6-5) dating to Oct. 17, 2001.
Despite the team's struggles, Jaromir Jagr has been a significant upgrade since coming over from Washington for Anson Carter on Jan. 23, registering four goals and four assists in seven games. He scored twice in the loss to Minnesota.
"It's my job to score goals, and I had my chances, but somehow the game slipped and I don't know why," Jagr said.
The Rangers have scored six goals in their last two games after tallying a combined three in the previous three games. However, their goaltending has abandoned them of late as Mike Dunham has allowed at least three goals in six of his last eight starts.
"We've got to get better goaltending, there's no doubt about it," Rangers coach Glen Sather said. "We're starting to score some goals, but we can't give up those kinds of goals."
The Devils have dropped two straight, including a 4-1 defeat in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Goalie Martin Brodeur has allowed eight goals during the slide, while his teammates have managed just one goal.
Scott Niedermayer scored for New Jersey on Tuesday.
"We've got to get ourselves straight," Devils right wing Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We're not playing very well lately. We've been getting beat pretty bad. We're a team that usually gives itself a chance to win every night, but we're not doing that right now."
Brodeur, who has started every regular-season game against the Rangers since Dec. 26, 1993, is 26-10-15 in his career against New York.
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