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NEW YORK (AP) _ Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez look as if they're having a good time.
Elias scored his eighth game-winning goal of the season to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 3-1 victory Monday night over the New York Rangers.
Elias and linemate Gomez are on an offensive tear. Elias has 14 goals in the last 14 games. Gomez has 26 points on four goals and 22 assists in the last 15 games.
``He's playing superb right now,'' Devils coach Pat Burns said of Elias. ``He looks like he's having fun out there, too. The both of them are.''
Martin Brodeur made just 16 saves in his 65th consecutive start against the Rangers. The Devils ran their unbeaten streak at Madison Square Garden to seven games (4-0-3).
Rangers goaltender Mike Dunham played well in defeat, especially in the first period when he stopped 15 shots and held off the Devils during two-man advantage that lasted 51 seconds. New Jersey has converted just three of its last 35 power plays.
Jan Hrdina and Jay Pandolfo also scored for the Devils. Jozef Balej had his first NHL goal for the Rangers, now within five points of elimination from playoff contention.
Any combination of New York Islanders points or points missed by the Rangers totaling five will mathematically eliminate the Rangers. ``They outplayed us in all parts of the game,'' said former Devil Bobby Holik.
New Jersey broke a stalemate at 10:14 of the second period on a fine individual effort from Hrdina. Forechecking aggressively, he stole the puck from Rangers defenseman Bryce Lampman and put a quick wrist shot from 10 feet out past Dunham for his 12th goal.
Elias made it 2-0 at 2:57 of the third period with his 34th goal. He one-timed a pass from Gomez pass from behind the net past Dunham from in close.
``Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't,'' Elias shrugged.
``With Patty it kind of reminds me of playing with a Claude Lemieux or Mogilny,'' said Gomez. ``I get on him for not shooting. The guy's got an unbelievable shot.
``He knows how to get open, like a Brett Hull. He's always in the right spot at the right time. You can't teach that.''
New York made it 2-1 when Balej came across the blue line, took a pass from Jan Hlavac, deked Brodeur to the ice and shot the puck over the prone goaltender at 6:24.
``Obviously it's a great feeling,'' Balej said. ``I've been dreaming about this my whole life. On the other hand, a couple of shifts earlier I made mistakes and Elias scored on me, so I was mad at myself. But then I scored, so it kind of made up for it too.''
Pandolfo closed out the scoring with his 12th goal, at 18:30.
|Jan Hrdina (12) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 NJD
|Patrik Elias (34) Snap shot - ASST: Scott Gomez (47), Turner Stevenson (12)|
2 - 0 NJD
|Jozef Balej (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Jan Hlavac (17), Boris Mironov (12)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Jay Pandolfo (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner (11)|
3 - 1 NJD
|Sandy McCarthy Tripping against Grant Marshall|
|Jamie Lundmark Hooking against Scott Gomez|
|Tom Poti Interference against Jeff Friesen|
|Garth Murray Too many men/ice - bench|
|Patrik Elias Interference against Karel Rachunek|
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