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.