Game 65 Live Blog: Zajac’s Goal Extends Lead, 6-3, In The Third Period; Lundqvist Chased To The Bench

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Travis Zajac’s goal at 16:21 of the third period extends the Devil’s lead, 6-3, in the third period tonight at the Prudential Center.

The play began with a turnover by Del Zotto at center ice. Zubrus stripped the young defenseman and sent the puck to Zajac, who entered the zone alone. His shot was initially stopped by Auld, but the puck trickled through his pads for Zajac’s 21st goal of the season.

That score broke Zajac’s career high of 20 goals, set last year.The Rangers start with 1:53 of powerplay time. They are 0-for-2 with the man advantage tonight.

Fraser hasn’t played since his mistake in the defensive zone led to Prust’s goal in the second period. Seems to me to be a bit harsh of a penalty for the rookie’s first mistake of the season, but the Devils are playing well without him.

The Devils took leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, but the Rangers came back to tie each time. Twice, the Rangers scored within a minute of the Devils’ goal.

The Devils outshot the Rangers, 13-7, in the second period. They lead the shot total, 21-13.

Brian Rolston’s goal at 15:19 extended the Devils lead, 5-3.

After the Devils broke up a 4-on-2 Rangers’ break, they started up ice with a 4-on-1 of their own. Niedermayer passed the puck to Rolston, who held the puck and skated to the right circle. Rolston tried to feed David Clarkson on the crease, but Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi dove to deflect the pass. The puck went through the pads of Lundqvist and into the back of the net.

After that goal, Rangers’ coach Jon Torterella pulled Lundqvist. The Rangers’ goalie gave up five goals on 17 shots. This is his first time being pulled in 29 career games against the Devils.

Backup goalie Alex Auld replaced Lundqvist.

Langenbrunner ‘s goal at 13:06 put the Devils ahead, 4-3.

After a turnover by the Rangers, Patrik Elias directed the puck to Greene at the point. Greene sent the puck cross-ice to Mike Mottau, where the defenseman took a shot. Langenbrunner tipped the puck past Lundqvist and into the net for Langenbrunner’s 601st point of his career.

Brandon Prust scored 37 seconds later to tie the game, 3-3.

The goal came from a good forecheck by the Rangers. Mark Fraser turned the puck over behind the puck, and it slid to the slot. Shelley took a spin-o-rama shot that Brodeur stopped. But Prust worked his way to the front of the net and put the rebound past Brodeur for his second goal of the year.

Zach Parise’s powerplay goal at 8:38 put the Devils ahead, 3-2.

With Wade Redden in the box for hooking, Brian Rolston took a shot on Lundqvist. Both Zubrus and Travis Zajac crashed the net, bringing the defensemen with them. The puck slid to the right side of the net, where Parise came untouched and backhanded it into the empty net for his 31st goal of the year.

Erik Christensen’s goal at 5:01 of the period tied the game.

Brandon Dubinsky carried the puck into the zone and found Christensen at the point alone. Christensen received the puck and deked around a Devils’ defenseman, putting him alone in the slot. He whipped a shot past Brodeur for his sixth goal of the year.

Niedermayer had a great short-handed breakaway attempt. With Zach Parise in the box for interference, Michael Del Zotto lost the puck at the Rangers’ blue line, and Niedermayer picked it up and raced into the zone. He went wide and tried to wrist the puck five-hole, but Lundqvist closed the pads and made the save

Martin Brodeur just made an incredible save at 1:36 to keep the Devils ahead. Jokinen and Gaborik broke in on a short 2-on-1. Gaborik sent the pass to Jokinen, but Brodeur dove across the crease and blocked the shot with the top part of his goalie stick. He recovered and covered the rebound to stop play.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a typical, Broduer jaw-dropper.

Bryce Salvador’s goal at 18:17 of the first period put the Devils ahead.

Salvador made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone. He took the puck and did a spin-o-rama, putting a pass behind the net to Niedermayer. Nidermayer got knocked down, and Jamie Langenbrunner passed the puck to Andy Greene at the right point. Greene passed the puck to Salvador, who one-timed the pass. The puck hit the stick of Ollie Jokinen in front and went in for Salvador’s fourth of the season.

Four seconds later, Rangers enforcer Jody Shelley and Devils tough-guy Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond dropped the gloves at center ice. Both players got some good shots in, but it was ultimately a draw.

With all the chatter in the first period, I was surprised that was the only fight.

The Devils led the opening period in shots, 8-6.

Vaclav Prospal scored 57 seconds after the Devils to tie the game at one.

Prospal set up near the side of the net, and Marian Gaborik found him with a pass. Prospal, who was wide open, put the puck past a diving Martin Brodeur for his 15th goal of the season.

Rob Nidermayer gave the Devils a short-lived lead at 4:16 of the period. David Clarkson made the play happen with some solid work in the offensive zone. Brian Rolston took an awkward angle shot, and the rebound came to Niedermayer in the slot. The center blasted the puck off of Henrik Lundqvist’s right shoulder and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.

Both teams are showing a lot of energy early. Brodeur has had to make some great saves early in this game, and it looks as if this might be a barn-burner here at the Rock.

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The Devils dropped their last game Sunday, a 2-0 shutout loss in Edmonton. The Devils are just 6-13-1 in their last 20 games, and they trail Pittsburgh by five points for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Rangers come in on a three-game losing streak (two in overtime) and trail the Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Martin Brodeur will start in net for the Devils. Henrik Lundqvist gets the nod for the Rangers.

Vladimir Zharkov, Andrew Peters, Jay Pandolfo and Anssi Salmela will be the healthy scratches. Rookie Mark Fraser, Rod Pelley, and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond will start.

Here are the line combinations for tonight’s game:

forwards

Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus

Ilya Kovalchuk – Patrik Elias – Jamie Langenbrunner

Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – David Clarkson

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond – Dean McAmmond – Rod Pelley

defenseman

Bryce Salvador – Andy Greene

Colin White – Mike Mottau

Mark Fraser – Martin Skoula

netminder

Martin Brodeur

 

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