NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Marian Gaborik hasn’t been a part of the Rangers-Devils rivalry for that long, but it’s been long enough for him to grasp how intense it is.
“It’s always a big game between these two teams,” said Gaborik, who scored two of New York’s three third-period goals in a 4-1 victory over New Jersey on Tuesday night. “You have to be ready to play these guys, because it’s going to be tough every time.”
Gaborik is in only his third season with the Rangers, and Tuesday was the first of six meetings this season between the teams. Henrik Lundqvist has a lot more experience, and a lot of success against the Devils.
“I enjoy playing against this team,” said Lundqvist, who made 30 saves in earning his 23rd win over the Devils in 37 games. “It’s always a great challenge to play them. There’s a lot of action. We all knew that this was going to be a tough one.”
Lundqvist has a career 1.85 goals-against average against the Devils.
Gaborik, who reached 600 NHL points with his first goal, also helped set up Artem Anisimov’s second-period tally that tied the game 1-1. New York (20-9-4) won its second straight and broke the Devils’ four-game winning streak.
Anisimov also had an assist, Carl Hagelin added a short-handed goal, and Derek Stepan chipped in three assists for the Rangers.
Travis Zajac’s first goal of the season gave the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first period. Zajac missed the first 30 games of the season following Achilles tendon surgery.
New Jersey was without leading scorer Patrik Elias, who sat out because of an illness.
Anisimov tied it with his seventh goal with 2:30 left in the second period and Gaborik broke the deadlock 4:45 into the third after Anisimov sent a backhanded shot off the post that trickled behind goalie Martin Brodeur. Gaborik alertly knocked the rebound past Brodeur.
“That’s how we score,” Gaborik said. “We get a lot of rebound, second-chance goals. I just try to stay in front and be there to lay it in.”
Hagelin made it 3-1 with 5:18 remaining, the fourth goal in 13 games for the rookie left wing. Gaborik closed the scoring with 3 seconds left, netting his 19th goal — one shy of the NHL lead.
“We kept on scrapping and fought through it,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “We started to take over in the second period and then kept on coming in the third. Hank made some key saves at key times and we just tried to stay with it. Eventually, we found a way to score some goals.”
The heated rivals got going quickly. Just three seconds after the opening faceoff, Devils forward Cam Janssen fought former New Jersey forward Mike Rupp in an extended fight.
Zajac’s goal was his first since March 15 against Atlanta. He had played in a franchise-record 401 consecutive games before missing the start of this season.
Hagelin scored the 10th short-handed goal of the season against the Devils.
However, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t upset with his team’s performance.
“We had a lot of opportunities, but their guy didn’t allow us to get the second goal,” DeBoer said. “If we got the second goal, we could have taken charge of the game. I thought it was one of our better games, maybe our best 60-minute effort this year.
“We didn’t come out on the right end, but I liked the way we played. Tip the cap to their guy. We have to find a way to solve him because we play them five more times.”
NOTES: Elias, who has 13 goals and 16 assists, also didn’t skate on Monday because he was ill. … Devils D Henrik Tallinder sat out a third straight game due to back spasms. … Rangers F Sean Avery was again a healthy scratch. … Devils rookie D Adam Larsson was expected to fly home to Sweden after the game due to the death of his grandmother. Larsson will miss Friday’s home game against Washington, and Monday’s game at Carolina.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)