All the New Jersey Devils needed to win for the first time this season was a game against the rival and injury-depleted New York Rangers.
Cory Schneider made 22 saves for his first shutout with New Jersey, and the Devils become the last NHL team to break into the win column with a 4-0 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night.
”It’s nice,” Schneider said after his 10th NHL shutout. ”It’s way better than the other feeling. It’s just one. We can’t sit here and say, `Well, we figured it out.’ We have to keep at it and play like that all the time, and we’ll have a lot more success.”
In losing their first seven games (0-4-3) and getting off to their worst start, the Devils blew leads, got outplayed, struggled on the power play and were terrible in the third period. This time, they played 60 minutes and get contributions all around.
Andrei Loktionov, Adam Henrique, Michael Ryder and Dainius Zubrus scored in the laugher against the struggling Rangers. New York is 2-5 on its season-opening, nine-game road trip.
”I think the effort has been there on a lot of nights, but not the results,” Henrique said. ”It was there tonight. Even in the third, when we were ahead, we wanted to finish the right way.”
Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky added two assists apiece as New Jersey took some of the mounting pressure off coach Pete DeBoer by matching its season high for goals.
DeBoer was happy for his players, saying they worked and probably deserved a win before this game. However, he believes having the Rangers on home ice was important.
”That always plays a role,” DeBoer said. ”They are our biggest rival, and the building is always packed. Where else would you want to be today, but playing the Rangers before a full house?”
Henrik Lundqvist made 15 saves for the Rangers.
”I have to be better,” said Lundqvist, who shut out Washington on Wednesday in what has been an inconsistent season so far for him.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said his team also has to respond better when it falls behind.
”Yes, we can be better,” Vigneault said. ”Henrik can be better and we can do a better job offensively. In the last two games we haven’t given up much. We were able to keep the puck out of our net in Washington and we needed to do a better job tonight.”
DeBoer has been searching for a winning lineup, and this one fell into his lap as Patrik Elias (flu) and Damien Brunner (upper body soreness) were sidelined unexpectedly.
Loktionov and Rostislav Olesz took their places in the lineup and played big roles as the Devils took a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Loktionov opened the scoring at 7:22, scoring on a rebound after Lundqvist left a big rebound on a point shot by defenseman Anton Volchenkov.
Olesz set up Henrique’s second goal of the season a little more than five minutes later, chipping a puck off the side boards to send his linemate on a break into the Rangers’ zone. Henrique beat Lundqvist with a shot over his shoulder from the left circle.
The goal came a little more than 20 seconds after Schneider stopped Benoit Pouliot in close. The goalie, who was 0-2-1 in his first three starts, was a little lucky early in the second period when Taylor Pyatt’s shot from the right circle hit the post, and the rebound slid through the crease.
New Jersey took command six minutes into the second period when Michael Ryder finished off passes by Jagr and Zidlicky with a power-play goal on a shot from two strides inside the blue line.
Zubrus closed out the scoring, backhanding the rebound of Bryce Salvador’s shot past a defenseless Lundqvist.
It was surprising that Salvador was back in the game. He had crashed into the boards late in the first period after being checked by Pouliot, and had difficulty getting to his feet despite several attempts.
The Rangers played without Rick Nash (concussion), Ryan Callahan (broken thumb) and Carl Hagelin, who has been out all season after shoulder surgery. Callahan was hurt late in the Rangers’ 2-0 win over Washington on Wednesday.
NOTES: Olesz earned his first point since he scored a goal while playing for Florida in February 2011. He spent most of last season in the minors. … The Rangers have two more games on the road before their home opener on Oct. 28. … Veteran Darroll Powe was called up from Hartford of the AHL to replace Callahan. … The Devils have three power-play goals in eight games.