What it means: A dominant effort by Ilya Kovalchuk and a trio of third-period goals by the Devils allowed New Jersey to knock off the Rangers 4-1 at Prudential Center Tuesday. Less than two minutes after David Clarkson gave New Jersey a 2-1 lead at 2:27 of the third, Ryan Carter buried a pass from linemate Jacob Josefson to give the Devils an insurance goal 4:21 into play. Alternate captain Patrik Elias notched an empty-netter with less than two minutes remaining as the Devils bounced back from Sunday's dispiriting 1-0 loss to the Islanders.
New Jersey entered Tuesday's match against their Atlantic Division rivals having dropped five of their previous six games, including a 2-0 shutout defeat to the Blueshirts at Madison Square Garden last Monday.
Captain returns: After missing three games with a bruised right foot suffered in the Rangers last game against New jersey, captain Ryan Callahan returned to the lineup Tuesday. Callahan sustained the injury while blocking Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot in the Rangers’ 2-0 win over New Jersey on trade deadline day February 27. Devils captain Zach Parise also played, despite a sore left hand that required him to undergo an MRI Monday.
Quick strike: Kovalchuk scored his 26th of the season to give the Devils an early lead Tuesday. Devils defenseman Mark Fayne forced a Rangers turnover at the red line and Parise found Kovalchuk on a break 49 seconds into play. Kovalchuk also picked up a secondary assist on Carter's third-period marker.
Step by step: Second-year center Derek Stepan scored his second goal in as many games and has recorded five points in the last four. After tallying the game-winner against Boston Sunday, the 21-year-old tied the game at 1 with a one-timer from the slot at 6:56 of the second Tuesday.
Fighting words: Scratching forward John Mitchell in favor of hulking enforcer John Scott was a pretty clear indication of the type of game John Tortorella expected and his assessment was correct. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Carter were the first to fight, dropping the gloves 3:03 into play. Newly-acquired Scott recorded his first fight as a Ranger since being traded by the Blackhawks at the deadline, squaring off against Devils heavyweight Cam Janssen later in the period.
The Rangers have accrued five fighting majors in the first period of the past two games. After Sunday’s 4-3 OT win against the Bruins, in which there were three bouts in the first 15:38, the Rangers racked up two more Tuesday against their Atlantic Division rivals.
Dubinsky injured: Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky was forced from the game with a hand injury after a first-period fight with New Jersey’s Ryan Carter. Dubinsky and Carter dropped the gloves 3:03 into play and the 25-year-old forward did not return for the remainder of the game.