In nine games since returning from the All-Star break, the New Jersey Devils are now 8-0-1 after Friday night’s 1-0 win over the New York Rangers at Prudential Center. They continue to gain ground on the teams ahead of them in the standings, and if they are in contention come April with six games remaining they may get some help from their recovering star Zach Parise; a player better than any player a team ahead of them (Rangers, Sabres, Thrashers, Hurricanes) will acquire at the trade deadline.
Ilya Kovalchuk netted the game’s only goal in the second period on a clean breakaway, snapping the puck past Henrik Lundqvist for his 21st goal of the season; he now has goals in four consecutive games and points in nine games in a row (7g, 4a). He also has four game-winning goals in New Jersey’s last six games.
That would be all the offense that Johan Hedberg needed, as he turned aside all 16 Rangers’ shots; he even admitted on TV to MSG’s Stan Fischler that it was a pretty easy game in net. The shutout was Hedberg’s second of the season and the win was the second for his team against the Blueshirts after dropping the first three match-ups. The sixth and final meeting between the Hudson River Rivals will take place on April 9 at MSG; the second-to-last game of the year for the Devils and the last game of the season for New York.
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