With Scott Niedermayer finally returning to the lineup after signing a new contract, a little goal production was expected from the New Jersey Devils' defense. Not from Scott Stevens, though.
Stevens scored the first goal this season by a New Jersey defenseman on a long slap shot late in the second period and the Devils ended the New York Rangers' six-game unbeaten streak 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The Devils not only ended the Rangers' streak (3-0-3), but also became the first team in three games to score against goalie Mike Richter. He had come into the game off shutouts against Buffalo and Carolina but he was beaten by Brendan Morrison, Stevens and Jay Pandolfo, who clinched the game with 2:27 to play.
Stevens got the game winner with 1:57 left in the second period on a shot from just inside the blue line.
"It rolled just before he shot it," said Richter, who had 26 saves. "He shot it hard, it was lucky, it just dipped a little bit. If I went down in a lazy way it would have hit me, but I stayed up to control the rebound and it just went under where my glove was."
Stevens said he jumped into the play with Wayne Gretzky's line trailing behind and took a pass from Brian Rolston.
"The puck started to roll before I shot it so I just wanted to get it on net," Stevens said. "Obviously it dropped quite a bit."
It also seemed to take the momentum away from the Rangers, and New Jersey extended its unbeaten streak against New York to 11 games (7-0-4).
"I think it was perfect to come back into a circumstance lik that where there was so much excitement about the game without anything else," said Niedermayer, who missed the Devils' first nine game while negotiating a new contract.
Martin Brodeur, who had 24 saves, made the goal stand up in the third period, stopping two big slap shots by MacLean and one from the left circle by Kevin Stevens.
"He was always real good in practice against me and scored a lot of goals," Brodeur said of MacLean, who had seven shots. "When you go out there it's a 50-50 chance. You just hope tonight will be your night and I was pretty fortunate."
Said MacLean: "I just wasn't able to put it home. I thought we played pretty good but we didn't come up with the goals we needed."
MacLean and Kevin Stevens combined on the Rangers' goal midway through the second period. MacLean, who spent his first 15 seasons with the Devils before being traded last year, doing most of the work.
Maclean took a drop pass from Esa Tikkanen in the left corner, circled until he was 30 feet in front of Brodeur and fired a low shot. Stevens put in the rebound.
Richter came into the game not having allowed a goal in 140 minutes, 57 seconds. The streak lasted another 14:53 before Morrison ended it by putting his own rebound past the goaltender with the Devils on a power play.
Dave Andreychuk got his 600th career assist on the play, the 50th player to reach the milestone.
New Jersey has won five of its last six games.
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