Zach Parise's 31st gave the Devils a 2-1 lead late in the second period.
newjerseydevils.com (March 27) – An unlucky bounce has the Devils still searching for win No. 1 against the New York Rangers.
Nigel Dawes' goal with 3:06 left in regulation broke a 2-2 tie and lifted the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Devils at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Chris Drury's centering attempt deflected on goal off the stick of Sheldon Brookbank, and was stopped by Martin Brodeur. Travis Zajac backchecked against Dawes, who went down in the slot and slid into the net – taking the puck with him for the go-ahead tally.
It was a stunning break for the Devils in their season series with the Rangers.
New Jersey dropped its seventh straight against New York (0-4-3) and will try to avoid the sweep when the teams close out the eight-game set on April 6 at Prudential Center.
The Rangers struck twice on the power play, which proved to be the difference as the clubs played to their second one-goal game of the series. Two other contests were decided in the shootout.
Brodeur posted 28 saves but remained stalled on 40 wins. Patrik Elias and Zach Parise scored for the Devils, who saw their winless streak grow to a season-high five games (0-4-1).
A win Thursday combined with a regulation loss by Washington would have clinched a playoff berth for the Devils. Instead they ended the night tied with the Rangers for fifth in the East with 91 points, just three ahead of Boston and Philadelphia (88 pts.) for the final spot.
Ottawa (92 pts.) moved ahead of the fourth-seed bottleneck with a point in a shootout loss to Buffalo on Thursday, and Boston's win over Toronto further complicated the Eastern playoff picture.
The Devils (42-28-7) can end the slide when they host the Flyers on Friday night. Four games in April will then close out the regular season, including a home matchup with the Bruins (April 2).
After a scoreless first period on Broadway, Brendan Shanahan's power-play goal gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 5:21.
Elias, in his second game back since returning from a knee injury, answered for New Jersey. He put a tricky redirection on Paul Martin's slap pass from the top of the right circle, beating Henrik Lundqvist's blocker side at 11:38.
Elias' 19th of the year broke a four-game goal drought and tied him with John Madden for third-best on team. Martin, appearing in his 300th career game, netted his first point in nine games.
An Elias pass from the left corner found Langenbrunner in the slot for a prime scoring chance that was gloved by Lundqvist at 4:18, protecting the 1-1 tie. The Rangers' netminder finished with 32 saves in his seventh win of the season against the Devils.
With less than two minutes to go in the second, Parise put the Devils ahead.
Parise's forecheck in Rangers' territory pressured defenseman Christian Backman into an ill-advised cross-ice pass from the right boards. The Devils' leading goal scorer knocked the puck out of the air and skated in alone on Lundqvist before snapping his 31st, top shelf, at 18:13.
Parise matched his career high for goals with his first tally in eight games and gave the Devils a 2-1 edge heading into the third. New Jersey has averaged just a goal a game since their last win, a 4-2 decision in Colorado on March 15.
New York made it 2-2 on Backman's second of the season in the third period, a power-play wrister from the left circle that beat Brodeur's blocker side at 1:38.
Brodeur kept it 2-2 late in the third with a fantastic glove save on Ryan Callahan's breakaway chance with 5:42 remaining.
A little more than two minutes later, Dawes slid into the net with his 13th of the season, and his second game winner against the Devils this season. The rookie forward also sealed New York's shootout win over New Jersey on March 19 in Newark.
NJD NOTES Bryce Salvador missed his fifth straight game with a lower body injury.
1 - 0 NYR
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NJD
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 NYR