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Sunday, October 9, 2005



EAST RUTHERFORD - It was a dark and stormy night - inside Continental Arena.

They played hockey with half the lights out, rain dripped on the ice and for two periods Saturday night, the Rangers thoroughly outplayed the Devils.

Yes, strange things were afoot at the old Meadowlands barn.

Until the third period, when the Devils turned it on to force overtime and Brian Rafalski scored 3:17 into the extra session to pull out a 3-2 victory.

"We kept going," right wing Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We had a good feeling like we were going to get the win tonight."

Viktor Kozlov set up the winning goal, grabbing the rebound of his own shot, circling behind the Ranger net and feeding Rafalski in the left circle. Rafalski had enough time to pick his spot and fired a wrister over the catching glove of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

"Kozzie made a nice pass and I was able to find an opening," Rafalski said. "I was trying to go to [the glove] side. The goaltender was coming across with Kozzie, so I just tried to go back to the other side."

The overtime triumph extended the Devils' dominance over their cross-the-Hudson rivals, who they will meet seven more times this season. They are 25-3-13 against the Blueshirts since 1997.

The Rangers, who have picked up four points out of a possible six in their first three games, gave the Devils all they could handle, though. They were the dominant team early, building a 13-1 advantage in shots on goal in the first period.

The Devils were fortunate that they scored on their one shot, a deflection by Kozlov of a Rafalski right point shot with 4:21 remaining in the period, which tied the game.

But the Rangers continued to control play in the second period and the Devils continued to have trouble with the league's crackdown on obstruction fouls. The Rangers had eight power plays for the game, five in the second period. At one point, the power plays were 6-1 in favor of the Rangers.

Only goaltender Martin Brodeur (33 saves) kept the Devils within reach.

The Devils' checking line of Jay Pandolfo, John Madden and Langenbrunner repeatedly resorted to hooks and holds in trying to slow down Jaromir Jagr. Langenbrunner took two hooking penalties - plus an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction for complaining to the officials about the unbalanced number of power plays (8-5), and Madden was whistled for two hooking minors.

"It's frustrating sometimes," Langenbrunner said. "You're not sure what you can and cannot do. You grow up playing hockey a certain way for 25 years of my life and now you're not sure where that line is. It's hard to find that line."

The Blueshirts took advantage of the Devils' lack of discipline, grabbing a 2-1 lead when Martin Rucinsky finished off a scramble in front for a power-play goal 8:32 into the second period.

What the Devils identified as a "weather-related power surge" caused a bank of lights to go out with 7:42 remaining in the second period. After waiting five minutes for the lights to come back on, the teams decided to play the remainder of the period in a dim arena.

At least that kept them from seeing the water falling from the arena ceiling onto the ice.

"We had our eyes half closed in the first two periods anyway," Langenbrunner said.

Trailing, 2-1, and being outshot, 26-8, after two periods, the Devils, though leg weary from playing Friday night in Philadelphia, came out strong to start the third and netted the tying goal on the power play 2:14 into the period.

"Pride kicked in," said Langenbrunner, who took three penalites. "Getting outshot 26-8 after two periods is a little embarrassing."

Alexander Mogilny was credited with the tying goal, but Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis knocked the puck into the New York net. Lundqvist, who was making his first NHL start, made a right pad save on Mogilny's one-timer from between the circles.

The puck remained on top of Lundqvist's right pad, though, and when Devils defenseman Paul Martin tried to whack it in, Kasparaitis inadvertently pushed it over the goal line.

"It was sitting right on top of the goalie's pad and we both kind of went after it," Martin said. "I missed the puck and hit his pad and [Kasparaitis] came in and hit his pad and his pad went into the net and the puck just trickled in."

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Despite whether or not this is blasphemy, a part of me was happy to see the Rangers play a good game....

I dunno the rivalry just got boring. Picking the winner of this game for the past few years was more or less just common sense. During last nights game I wasnt so sure...

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