Saturday night at the Prudential Center a pair of teams who were each missing three of their top forwards faced off against one another, though one of the teams seemed much more adversely affected than the other as the Rangers were defeated 4-0 by the New Jersey Devils.
Playing without injured forwards Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, and Carl Hagelin, the Rangers (2-5-0) mustered few shots and hardly any offensive zone time against a Devils team that came into play Saturday as the league's lone winless team. The Devils (1-4-3) though were buoyed by four different goal scorers and an efficent 22-save shutout by goaltender Cory Schneider despite playing without Patrick Elias, Damian Brunner, and Ryane Clowe. The win was Schneider's first as Devil, while the shutout was the tenth of his career.
It was the second time already this season that the Rangers were shut out. They have scored just 11 goals in their first seven games this season.
Coming off a sharp 22-save shutout of his own Wednesday night in Washington, Henrik Lundqvist struggled throughout Saturday's contest, beaten twice on rebounds and twice more on long-range shots. Lundqvist surrendered two goals in each of the first two periods, and at one point had allowed four goals on 13 shots in total.
New Jersey's Andrei Loktionov, in the lineup due to the injuries up front, scored off a put back of an Anton Volchenkov shot at 7:22 of the first period to open the scoring. Volchenkov kept an attempted clear by the Rangers' John Moore in at the left point setting the stage for the game's first goal.
Five minutes later Adam Henrique raced up left wing, leaving a pair of Rangers in his wake, and fired a slap shot past Lundqvist to the short side for his second goal of the season, making it 2-0 at 12:37. Though Henrique was left wide open, it was a goal Lundqvist would have liked to have back.
Michael Ryder scored a power play goal 6:00 into the second period---only New Jersey's third power play tally so far this season---and Dainius Zubrus made it 4-0 scoring his second goal of the season on a rebound at 14:32 of the middle stanza.
The highlights were few and far between for the undermanned visitors. Taylor Pyatt, playing on the top line with Derick Brassard and Brad Richards in the place of the injured Callahan and Nash, had his right-wing shot hit the near post 90 seconds into the second period and then shoveled the rebound just wide of the far post. Marc Staal collected a perfect cross-ice pass from Mats Zuccarello midway through the first period, but triggered his blast just wide of Schneider's cage in another good scoring opportunity.
In the third period Schneider stoned Brian Boyle and Derek Stepan on separate in-close scoring chances.
Benoit Pouliot delivered the hit of the night, crushing Devils captain Bryce Salvador in the final seconds of the opening stanza. Salvador slid hard to the ice and into the boards and did not start the second period, but did return to action, even earning an assist on the goal scored by Zubrus.
The Rangers are off until next Thursday when the skate against the Flyers down in Philadelphia.