By John Schweibacher
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The Devils’ reign atop the Metropolitan Division didn’t last long.

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After pulling off its most impressive effort of the season with a victory in Columbus last week, a win that moved it atop the standings, New Jersey dropped games to the Blue Jackets and Rangers to fall into fourth place in what is shaping up to be the NHL’s tightest divisional race.

The Devils lost to the Rangers, 5-2, on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in the second of four regular season meetings between the clubs. The defeat marked the first time this season that New Jersey lost consecutive games in regulation.

Will Butcher

The Devils’ Will Butcher attempts to shoot the puck past the Rangers’ Jesper Fast on Oct. 14, 2017, at Madison Square Garden (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Devils’ rookie Blake Coleman had an assist, giving him points in two straight games for the first time in his NHL career. Fellow rookie Will Butcher also added an assist, giving him 17 this season, which ranks second among rookies league-wide and second on New Jersey behind Taylor Hall’s 20.

The Devils are tied atop the NHL for the most total points by rookies so far this season (through Dec. 11):

— Devils, 64 points
— Bruins, 64
— Islanders, 44
— Avalanche, 40
— L.A. Kings, 40
— Lightning, 40
— Coyotes, 38

Pavel Zacha had an assist on Miles Wood’s goal in the third period on Saturday. It was Zacha’s first game back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the previous three.

Zacha, who was drafted sixth overall by New Jersey in 2015, currently ranks 10th in total points among players selected that June (through Dec. 11):

(Player, team, draft position, points):

— Connor McDavid, Oilers, No. 1 pick, 183 points
— Jack Eichel, Sabres, No. 2, 136
— Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs, No. 4, 80
— Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes, No. 35, 70
— Noah Hanifin, Hurricanes, No. 5, 66
— Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets, No. 8, 63
— Miko Rantanen, Avalanche, No. 10, 62
— Ivan Proverov, Flyers, No. 7, 44
— Travis Konecny, Flyers, No. 24, 37
— Pavel Zacha, Devils, No. 6, 33

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Henrik Lundqvist got the win Saturday for the Rangers, his 419th career victory. In doing so he broke a tie with Tony Esposito for the second-most wins by a goalie for one franchise in league history:

— Martin Brodeur, Devils, 688
— Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers, 419
— Tony Esposito, Blackhawks, 418
— Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins, 375
— Terry Sawchuk, Red Wings, 351

The Devils dropped the second half of their home-and-home set the Blue Jackets, 5-3, on Friday night at Prudential Center. Artemi Panarin recorded the primary assist on all of the Columbus goals, becoming the fifth player to have five assists in a single game against New Jersey:

— Panarin, 12/8/17
— Alexandre Picard, 2/1/07 (Devils defeated Flyers 6-5 in OT)
— Dale Hawerchuk, 1/15/92 (Devils and Sabres tied, 8-8)
— Mario Lemieux, 10/18/86 (Devils lost to Penguins, 8-4)
— Wayne Gretzky, 11/19/83 (Devils lost to Oilers, 13-4)

The Devils and Blue Jackets were tied 3-3 after 40 minutes on Friday. New Jersey is now 1-2-2 this season when the score is tied at the end of two periods:

New Jersey beat Columbus, 4-1, last Tuesday. Cory Schneider made 41 saves to record his 100th career win with the Devils.

Schneider, who reached the century mark in his 252nd game for New Jersey, is only the third goaltender to get to 100 wins in franchise history, joining Martin Brodeur (688) and Chris Terreri (118).

Brodeur picked up his 100th career victory on Jan. 14, 1997, 4-2 over the Bruins at the Meadowlands. It was Brodeur’s 204th career game. Terreri won his 100th game for the Devils on March 26, 1994, 7-2 over the Flyers at the Meadowlands in his 246th game.


Plus: Overpowering. The Devils have killed off 27 of the last 30 short-handed situations.

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Minus: Powerless. The Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play in the loss to the Rangers and have not scored with the man-advantage in four straight games (0-for-14).