Mar 6; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Rangers left wing Brandon Dubinsky (17) and New Jersey Devils center Ryan Carter (20) fight during the first period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are rarely on friendly terms at the best of times, but both teams seemed to have an extra dose of loathing as they faced off in the Prudential Center en route to a fight-filled 4-1 Devils victory.
From the drop of the puck, the New Jersey Devils wanted to make a statement as they took on the New York Rangers. An early shift facing the top lines from the two Atlantic Divsion rivals ended with Ilya Kovalchuk breaking a career-high nine-game goalless streak by taking a pass from captain Zach Parise and snapping it past Henrik Lundqvist less than a minute into the first period.
Just to hammer the point home, however, the Devils' Ryan Carter challenged Brandon Dubinsky to a tilt at center ice, unleashing a torrent of blows on the veteran winger that eventually saw both falling to the ice. After a nasty hit by Cam Janssen on Brian Boyle, newly-acquired Rangers forward John Scott would express his displeasure, the seeming mismatch in size balanced by Janssen perhaps possessing a bit more emotional commitment.
Ticky-tack fouls followed through the game as crosschecks, stickwork, and the occasional trip characterized almost every contact, but neither side converted on their power-play opportunities. Instead, it was Derek Stepan bringing the Rangers back into the game midway through the second period. Taking a feed from Dan Girardi behind the Devils net, Stepan walked untouched into the slot and fired a one-time shot past Martin Brodeur to the top-corner.
The Devils, however, responded early in the third period when David Clarkson raced up ice after Martin Brodeur daringly pushed the puck away from a charging Brandon Prust, then dropped a last-second pass to Petr Sykora, who fired a shot that initially appeared to beat Lundqvist but was later determined to have been deflected by Clarkson on the return pass, putting New Jersey back in control.
Ryan Carter added a goal to his stats for the evening a few minutes later, converting on a good setup by Jacob Josefson, but didn't have an opportunity to complete a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Patrik Elias firmly completed the statement win for the Devils with an empty-net goal with just over two minutes to go.