The Rangers rattled off six straight goals, four of which came in the second period and led to Brodeur’s early exit. Mats Zuccarello tallied twice for the Rangers in a critical second-period swing in which the Blueshirts took hold of momentum. Brodeur had little help -- the Devils’ defense gave up a number of odd-man rushes in the middle frame -- but was pulled regardless, as backup goaltender Cory Schneider relieved him for the third period.
With only two points separating the teams heading into Sunday’s action, the Rangers created some distance within the Metropolitan Division between them and their Hudson River rivals. The Blueshirts improved to 28-23-3 and widened their lead to four points beyond the Devils and Carolina Hurricanes and three points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers.
Second-period surge: Zuccarello scored two goals in what was a huge four-goal second period for the Rangers. Both of his markers came on two-on-one rushes, as the Devils’ defense hung Brodeur out to dry. Hard to fault the veteran netminder for Carl Hagelin’s 12th of the season -- a shot that deflected off Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky -- but it was a cringe-worthy frame nonetheless. Scorching-hot winger Rick Nash gave the Rangers a 6-3 lead heading into the second intermission with his 11th goal in 11 games.
Veteran presence: Patrik Elias, 38, tallied twice for the Devils in the first period to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Ex-Ranger Ryane Clowe sprung Elias for a partial breakaway at 5:36 for the game’s first goal, and the veteran forward notched his second of the frame on a sweet set-up from Jaromir Jagr for a power-play goal at the 11-minute mark. Jagr’s primary assist allowed him to pass former teammate Mario Lemieux and claim sole ownership of 10th place on the NHL’s all-time assist list with 1,034. He picked up another on Zajac’s goal later in the frame.
Shaky in net: Neither Lundqvist nor Brodeur was particularly sharp in the first period, as both let in at least one goal that should have been stopped. Lundqvist was beaten stickside on a breakaway by Elias on the game’s first goal and was later caught out of position for Elias’ second of the game. Brodeur gave up a particularly terrible goal to defenseman Marc Staal, whose shot banked in off Brodeur’s pads and trickled through the 5-hole.
Delay of game: The game was postponed by roughly an hour because of the glare on the ice, a decision that the NHL made primarily because of concern over player safety. The league also made sure not to put either team at a disadvantage. Lundqvist occupied the southwest end of the ice during the first and third periods of the game, a feat that would’ve been difficult for at least the opening frame with the blinding sunlight at the time. Originally slated for 12:30 p.m., the puck dropped at 1:38 p.m. instead. The official temperature at game time was a chilly 24.9 degrees.