Game 73: Despite Loss, Devils Still Take First Place In Atlantic Division

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With 16 seconds left and the Devils ahead, the Rangers saw their playoff chances slipping away.

But Chris Drury tied the game with a late goal, and the Rangers defeated the Devils, 4-3, in a shootout win Thursday night at the Prudential Center.

Colin White - 3:25:10Rangers center Erik Christensen scored the only shootout goal, clinching the win for the Rangers. Christensen came down and fired a shot low on Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur. The puck bounced off the right post and seemed to go into the net for the goal. The officials first ruled no goal, but video replays showed the puck hit the netting and came out of the goal. Christensen was credited with the shootout tally.

The Rangers wouldn’t have got to the shootout if not for Chris Drury.

With the Rangers trailing, 3-2, Drury scored with 16 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at three. After winning the faceoff, the Rangers sent the puck behind the net. Christensen controlled the puck and sent a backhanded pass to the crease. Drury one-timed the puck past the pads of Brodeur for his 12th goal of the season.

Jamie Langenbrunner gave the Devils a lead, 3-2, at 12:57 of the third period. With the Rangers in the midst of a line change, Patrik Elias Elias sent a backhanded pass to Langenbrunner along the blue line. The captain skated the puck into the left circle and blasted a puck past Henrik Lundqvist for his 17th goal of the season.

Ilya Kovalchuk began the scoring at 5:21 of the first period. The Devils moved into the zone with a 3-on-2 rush, and Brian Rolston put a slap shot on Lundqvist. The puck bounced off the heel of his glove, and Kovalchuk put the rebound through Lundqvist’s pads for his 38th goal of the year.

Rolston’s assist was his first point in seven games.

Brandon Dubinsky’s powerplay goal at 7:32 of the second period tied the game at one. With Rolston in the box for interference, Dubinsky collected a loose puck behind the net. He skated to the side boards and passed the puck to Michael Del Zotto, who passed the puck right back on a give-and-go. Dubinsky skated into the right circle and shot the puck through a screen and into the net for his 17th goal of the season.

With the game tied at one, Brodeur made a spectacular save to keep the game tied early in the third. The Rangers took possession of the puck behind the net. A pass came to a wide-open Ollie Jokinen in the slot. The center rifled a shot on goal, but Brodeur stopped the shot with his mask for the save.

Elias’ goal at 3:53 of the third period put the Devils ahead, 2-1. David Clarkson collected a loose puck behind the net and skated it to the side boards. Elias, coming off the bench, found an open spot in the slot. He one-timed Clarkson’s pass over the glove of Lundqvist for his 14th goal of the season.

The Rangers came back to even the score with a goal from Artem Anisimov at 9:40 of the third period. Anisimov’s goal came from a bad defensive play by Bryce Salvador. With Brandon Prust and Salvador racing for the puck in the Devils zone, Salvador decided to try and play Prust instead of the puck. Prust skated by Salvador and sent a centering pass to Anisimov at the front of the net. Anisimov held the puck, and Brodeur went down to the butterfly. Anisimov lifted the puck over a helpless Brodeur and into the net for his 12th goal of the season.

Lundqvist helped keep the Rangers in the game the entire night. He stopped Elias on two different breakaway opportunities, denying Elias with the pads on both attempts.

Brodeur finished the game with 28. Lundqvist finished with 35 saves for the victory.

With the win, the Rangers move within three points of the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Blueshirts, currently 10th in the standings, sit one point behind Atlanta for the ninth spot in the conference.

Despite the loss, the Devils grabbed first place from the idle Pittsburgh Penguins. Since the Thrashers gained a point tonight, the Devils did not clinch a playoff spot.

Game Notes:

Jody Shelly and Andrew Peters dropped the gloves at 9:01 of the first period. Shelly landed most of the punches, but Peters knocked him to the ice with a solid right to end the fight…The Devils took first because of their head-to-head record with the Pittsburgh Penguins…Langenbrunner’s goal ended an eight-game goal drought…Ryan Callahan left tonight’s game and didn’t return after re-aggravating a leg injury…Tonight’s game was the 12th sellout of the season, a record for the Devils at the Prudential Center.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo

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