Weekes battles Markus Naslund in the crease during Wednesday's action.
newjerseydevils.com – A hot start for the Devils resulted in another frustrating finish against their Hudson River rivals.
The Devils took the first lead of the game Wednesday against the New York Rangers, but were burned for a season-high four goals in the second period en route to a 5-2 loss at Prudential Center.
The Rangers struck for three goals in a span of 2:08, including two 29 seconds apart, to drop the Devils to their third straight regulation loss. New Jersey was outshot 20-8 in the one-sided middle frame, suffering its ninth defeat in 10 regular season meetings with New York.
Zubrus scored a second-period takedown of Brandon Dubinsky.
Kevin Weekes made his fourth start, allowing four goals on 25 shots before he was relieved by Scott Clemmensen, who started the third period. Clemmensen came on and stopped 16 of 17 New York shots.
The Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist registered 30 saves in the victory.
It was the first time in 22 match-ups with the Rangers that someone other than Brodeur got the nod in goal for the Devils. Clemmensen was the last, starting two straight against New York on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5, 2005.
The Devils (7-6-2) are back in action for a home-and-home set with the Capitals Friday in Washington and Saturday in Newark. With two goals or less in four of their last five games, the club will be hoping to reignite its offense down in D.C.
Head coach Brent Sutter's squad got out of the gate quickly Wednesday, outshooting the Rangers 13-5 in the first period and netting the only goal through 20 minutes of play.
The Devils' solid start resulted in Zajac's first goal in eight games and the team's first lead against the Rangers this season.
Mike Mottau's wrister from the left point hit traffic in the slot, and Zajac popped the rebound into the open right side to make it 1-0 at 7:04.
As the Devils celebrated, a 10-man scrum developed when Brandon Dubinsky dumped Zach Parise behind the Rangers net. Dubinsky received a roughing minor, but the Devils missed a chance to up their lead despite three shots on the power play that followed.
It set an early tone for what would be a chippy night at the Rock. The teams combined for 54 penalty minutes, including a misconduct and a game misconduct.
The Rangers, without center Scott Gomez (leg), took the play to the Devils in the second period, beginning with a 5-on-3 power-play strike by Michal Roszival.
Mike Rupp was whistled for hooking at 5:47, and on the ensuing kill, Bryce Salvador stopped a Ryan Callahan scoring chance by taking a potentially goal-saving cross-checking minor.
With only two seconds left on the two-man advantage, Roszival ripped a shot from the left point that caromed off the right post and off of Weekes' back before dribbling over the goal line at 7:45.
A delayed penalty was coming against New Jersey 1:39 later, when Chris Drury put New York ahead.
Drury collected a pass from Dan Fritsche in the neutral zone and skated into Devils' territory for a blast from the right circle that beat Weekes' blocker, inside the left post at 9:24.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Fritsche carried behind the Devils' net to find Lauri Korpikoski for a one-timer from the slot to make it 3-1.
Nikolai Zherdev took advantage of another 5-on-3 to net the Rangers' fourth and final goal of the period. With Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias in the box for hooking, Zherdev buried Wade Redden's rebound from the left circle at 15:50.
"The disappointing thing for me is the first period, you go from one extreme to the another in the second period," Sutter said. "We took penalties. We stood around and watched and then you get into trouble, with two 5-on-3's. They capitalized on both. In most cases in this league, you get down 5-on-3, it's just going to happen. You're going to get scored against... The whole flow of the game changed."
The Devils narrowed the deficit to two goals in the third.
Langenbrunner potted his third of the season when he put the rebound of an Anssi Salmela shot into the open right side at 4:19 to make it 4-2.
Midway through the period, Zherdev's slapshot from the right circle redirected up off of Mottau's outstretched stick and past Clemmensen at 9:51.
The Devils finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
NJD NOTES The four goals allowed in the second represented a Devils' season-high for a single period... Twenty shots allowed in the frame matched a season-high (Nov. 3 vs. Buffalo)... The Devils were outshot 37-19 over the final 40 minutes of play... Salvador (bruised foot) and Brian Gionta (general soreness) returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's game... The Devils skated seven defensemen, while right wing Nicklas Bergfors was scratched... Parise and Langenbrunner came close to making it 2-0 with six minutes remaining in the first. Johnny Oduya broke up a 2-on-2 against Dubinsky and Aaron Voros, and the play turned up ice for a 2-on-1 against Dan Girardi. Parise took a pass in the slot from the Devils' captain, but missed with a wrist shot... Dainius Zubrus and Brandon Dubinsky closed out the second period with a scrap that resulted in Zubrus receiving a game misconduct for not having his jersey tied down.