Elias, Gionta help Devils top Rangers in wild affair

Author:
Publish date:

By Daren Smith

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Linemates Patrik Elias and Brian

Gionta helped the New Jersey Devils avoid an embarrassing

collapse against their bitter rivals.

Elias and Gionta scored 95 seconds apart midway through the

third period Friday as the Devils squandered a four-goal lead

before beating the New York Rangers, 8-5, for their fourth

straight win.

Elias added two assists and Gionta set up three goals while Zach

Parise collected a career-high four assists. Travis Zajac

scored twice and Dainius Zubrus added a goal and two assists for

the Devils, who have won nine of 10.

Captain Jamie Langenbrunner scored a goal and set up another

while Jay Pandolfo and defenseman Johnny Oduya netted

shorthanded tallies for New Jersey, which extended its home

winning streak to five games.

"We had to find a way to beat them tonight. I don't know if we

would ever get them out of our heads if we had let them come

back and win that one," Pandolfo said. "Give them credit for

sticking with it, but it was nice to find a way (to win)."

New York has surrendered a league-high 10 shorthanders this

season.

"You don't need to read about it, you don't need to hear it.

All you have to do is look at the statistics and recognize we're

one of the teams that gives those up," Rangers coach Tom Renney

said. "So why not press, why not push it up ice and force us to

maybe make that play that we can't, that we don't want to?"

Nikolai Zherdev registered a goal and three assists and former

Devil Scott Gomez scored a goal and assisted on two others for

the Rangers, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit to forge a tie

before suffering their fourth loss in six games.

"Not a happy camper right now, not a happy camper," Renney said.

"It would've been an ugly win had we gotten it, but it would

have been something they could be proud of had they been able to

pull it off. As it turns out, we gave up eight goals."

The 13 goals were the most in a game between the clubs since the

Rangers posted an 8-5 triumph on December 23, 1986.

"There were things that happened that were just crazy, things

you wouldn't expect in a game between the Devils and Rangers,"

New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. "It was one of the

strangest games I've been involved with as a coach."

For the better part of two periods, New Jersey appeared set to

put an emphatic end to New York's recent dominance in the Hudson

River rivalry. Behind a pair of goals by Zajac, the Devils

stormed to a 5-1 lead.

But the Rangers regrouped and tied it with less than nine

minutes remaining in the third on Ryan Callahan's second goal in

as many games.

Elias permanently shifted the momentum just 11 seconds later,

taking a cross-slot pass from Zubrus and scoring into a

half-empty net. It was his 12th goal of the season and fourth

in as many contests.

Gionta, who tied a career high with four points, made it 7-5

with 6:56 to play. After a pass from Zubrus sent him in alone

down the slot, the diminutive right wing deked to his backhand

and slid the puck around the right pad of goaltender Henrik

Lundqvist.

"Just one of those nights," said Gionta, who has notched six

goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games. "Obviously, Patty

and Zubes are going hard, they're making things happen. I felt

I played a fairly strong game, but there's always things you

look back at and you can correct."

Langenbrunner capped the scoring just over two minutes later,

beating Lundqvist with a one-timer from the edge of the right

faceoff circle off another feed from Zubrus. New Jersey's final

three goals came as a result of turnovers.

Scott Clemmensen made 31 saves for the Devils. Lundqvist

stopped 26 shots while matching a career high by allowing eight

goals.

"I didn't think about taking (Lundqvist) out at all," Renney

said. "I felt this was a (heck) of an opportunity for our team

to show that guy that we do have the fight in us, that we do

have the ability to get ourselves back in the hockey game.

Certainly, to a man, they knew we owed him that much. I thought

he played exceptional. ... This was not on Henrik Lundqvist

tonight."

After Pandolfo and New York's Markus Naslund traded goals in the

opening 16 minutes of the first period, Zajac put the Devils in

front with 3:01 to go. He struck again a minute into the

second, completing his third career two-goal effort.

But Zajac played just one shift in the third after getting

injured, apparently in a fight with defenseman Dan Girardi.

Oduya poked in a loose puck at 7:31 of the second, giving New

Jersey two shorthanded goals in the same game for the first time

since October 16, 1993. Zubrus tallied four minutes later, but

Zherdev and Gomez scored in the final 4:14 of the period to get

the Rangers within 5-3 and defenseman Paul Mara beat Clemmensen

with a wrister from the blue line 88 seconds into the third to

make it a one-goal game.

TOP HEADLINES

USATSI_16239109
Play

How The Golden Knights Success Stands Up With Other Successful Expansion Teams

The Golden Knights have had solid success in their first four years in the NHL. But how does compare against the NFL, NBA, and MLB teams who've won as newcomers?

USATSI_11265200
Play

Breaking: Rangers Hire Gallant as Head Coach

Gerard Gallant is reportedly set to be named the 36th head coach in New York Rangers history

USATSI_16142221
Play

Top Conn Smythe Candidates in 2021 Playoffs

Just four teams remain with a shot at Stanley Cup glory this summer. For some, the playoff hero is obvious. For others, it's not quite so clear. But either way, each has at least one player with whose post-season performance will merit Conn Smythe consideration.