Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin each notched a goal and an assist and Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 13 shots he faced as the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers shut out the New Jersey Devils Monday night at Madison Square Garden. By virtue of the victory, New York became the first team in the East to hit the 40-win mark, joining the Detroit Red Wings (41) and Vancouver Canucks (40) as the only NHL teams to reach that plateau this season.
Posting a 7-2-1 mark in their last 10 contests, New York are running away with both the Atlantic Division and conference titles, as they lead each race by nine points. The Blueshirts, who likely made a wise move in not pushing the envelope earlier in the day to acquire Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets and risk damaging a chemistry they have worked so hard to construct when they let the trade deadline pass without making a major move, also ran their record at the Garden to a rather impressive 21-7-2.
After climbing the standings with a furious 9-1-1 run, the Devils have now lost three consecutive games and remain in the sixth slot in the East, tied in points (74) with the Ottawa Senators.
It was Lundqvist's 30th win of the season, a mark he has now reached in all seven NHL seasons with the Rangers. He is 30-12-4 for the year. It was also "King Henrik's" League-Leading eighth shutout and perhaps the easiest yet, needing to stop just 13 New Jersey offerings on the night.
As a matter of fact, Rangers skaters stopped more than their netminder. Led by Dan Girardi's three blocked shots, New York players laid out their bodies and blocked 18 shots.
After Devils rookie Adam Henrique came close to scoring when his shot hit the crossbar early in the opening frame, the Rangers would get on the board late in the first. Callahan sent a pass from behind the net to Hagelin in front, and the New York rookie beat goaltender Martin Brodeur for his 11th goal of the season with 3:01 remaining in the frame.
There was no scoring in a chippy second period, a stanza that featured fights between the Rangers' Brandon Prust and New Jersey's Eric Boulton, and New York's Brandon Dubinsky and the Devils' David Clarkson. Clarkson registered 19 of the 42 PIMs recorded during the middle period.
New Jersey came close in the third period when Lundqvist was called upon to make his best save of the night, a glove stop on Devils sniper Ilya Kovalchuk from the left circle on a shot ticketed for the far top corner.
The home team was able to ice the game with Brodeur pulled for an extra attacker, when Callahan hit the empty net for his 25th goal of the year with 1:06 left in regulation for a 2-0 lead.
Brodeur stopped 13 of 14 shots in taking the loss, which dropped his record to 22-16-2.