Zach Parise couldn't beat Henrik Lundqvist on New Jersey's final attempt of the shootout.
newjerseydevils.com (March 19) – Prudential Center was rocking for another Battle of the Hudson, but the Devils' legion of fans left singing the blues.
The Devils were less than five minutes away from their first win of the season against the New York Rangers, but let a late lead slip away to and left a point on the table.
Chris Drury's goal with 4:46 left in regulation knotted the game at 1-1, and Nigel Dawes scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Rangers topped the Devils 2-1 Wednesday in Newark.
Dainius Zubrus notched the only goal of the night for the Devils, who remained winless in six meetings this season with the Rangers (0-3-3) and slipped to 10-10-4 against the Atlantic Division.
The Devils' offense once again fell short against New York, with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist posting 17 saves for his sixth straight victory over New Jersey. Lundqvist has held the Devils to one goal or less five times this year, including two shutouts.
Despite the loss, New Jersey (42-24-7) secured a valuable point to move ahead of idle Montreal and into a one-point lead for the Eastern Conference. The club extended their lead to two points over second-place Pittsburgh, which was also idle.
The Rangers closed to within two points of the Penguins, and trail the Devils by four in the Atlantic chase.
A loss to the Rangers is certainly a disappointment, but to Devils head coach Brent Sutter, the points are what matter now.
"We're on top of the standings and getting points as a team," Sutter said. "It's irrelevant who we're playing. It's a rivalry, I understand, but to me it's important to play well and give yourself a chance to win. I thought we did that tonight."
The contest got off to a feisty start when David Clarkson and Sean Avery dropped gloves just 35 seconds in, dueling to a long draw.
Later in the first period, the Devils did something they had managed to do just once in their five previous meetings with the Rangers – score the first goal.
Missing Patrik Elias (bruised knee) for a second straight game, the unlikely power-play line of Zubrus, Mike Rupp and Sergei Brylin snapped New Jersey's 0-for-8 drought on the man advantage and put the Devils ahead.
With Michal Rozsival in the box for high-sticking Zach Parise at 5:13, Rupp fed from the end boards to Zubrus, who snapped his 12th of the season over Lundqvist's right shoulder at 6:05.
It was the third goal in as many games for Zubrus, who has four points (3g-1a) in his last three games.
Rupp, meanwhile, now has assists in three straight contests after collecting just one in his previous 20. The 6-5, 230-lb. left winger, who was averaging 7:03 of ice time, logged 17:03 in 23 shifts against the Rangers, including 3:45 on the man advantage.
Martin Brodeur (40-22-6) was outstanding early, coming up with a breakaway save on Martin Straka with 2:51 left in the opening period.
Brodeur's 32nd straight start gave him the third longest games played/started stretch of his career, surpassing a run of 31 consecutive from Dec. 31, 2005 to March 23, 2006.
Early in the second, Brodeur had to be sharp again when Brendan Shanahan's shot from the left circle redirected off Colin White and on goal at 1:50. Minutes later, the Devils escaped danger when Fedor Tyutin's shot caught the left post. His follow-up centering attempt skipped past an open Scott Gomez at 5:15.
After a scoreless second period, the Devils carried their 1-0 lead into the third.
But with the clock ticking down in regulation, the Rangers drew even. Ryan Callahan walked out from behind the net to slip a pass through Sheldon Brookbank and Vitaly Vishnevski to an unattended Drury in front.
Drury beat Brodeur up high for his 23rd of the season, and third against the Devils, at 15:14.
In the shootout, Brendan Shanahan and Jamie Langenbrunner were each stopped in the first round before Dawes struck in the second.
Dawes has stung the Devils before. The rookie forward entered the game with three goals in four games against New Jersey, including the game winner on Oct. 25.
Parise's third-round bid to send the shootout into sudden death fell short when his forehand deke attempt trickled wide of the left post.
Willie O'Ree drops the ceremonial faceoff Wednesday between Jamie Langenbrunner and Jaromir Jagr.
NJD NOTES NHL pioneer Willie O'Ree was on hand at Prudential Center for a ceremonial faceoff before Wednesday's game. This season marks the 50th anniversary of O'Ree's debut, when he became the first black player in the NHL... New Jersey's two top scorers – Parise and Brian Gionta – have combined for a goal and an assist in six games against the Rangers this season... Elias missed a second straight game with a bruised knee, while Bryce Salvador (lower body soreness) missed his first game since being acquired by the Devils... White returned after missing four games with upper body soreness... Andy Greene and Karel Rachunek were scratches.
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