Henrik Lundqvist came up big when the New York Rangers needed him and got a key milestone win.
Kevin Hayes scored the deciding goal in the shootout and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots through overtime and three more in the tiebreaker to help the Rangers beat the new Jersey Devils 3-2 Sunday night.
Lundqvist stopped Damon Severson in the fourth round of the shootout to secure the Rangers' sixth win in seven games and second against the Devils at home in eight days. It also gave Lundqvist his 389th career win, tying him with Dominik Hasek for the most by a European-born goaltender.
"He was an inspiration to me growing up," Lundqvist said about the feat. "He was the first guy I saw play paddle down. I grew up watching him, so this special for sure."
Lundqvist has been stellar since serving as the backup to Antti Raanta, who started four straight games from Dec. 8-13. In three games since, Lundqvist is 3-0-0 with a 0.98 goals against average and a .967 save percentage. He also made several big stops on Sunday, which included two saves on New Jersey breakaways, to fend off the Devils.
"Hank is such a competitor. He works so hard," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "He's an absolute workhorse - a great teammate. And I expected nothing less from him."
New York coach Alain Vigneault isn't surprised by Lundqvist's recent play.
"This is the start of my fourth year. As soon as I got here, I knew his preparation and his work ethic in practice," Vigneault said. "That's why he was one of the best goaltenders in the league at that time, and he continues to be. He just works at his game, he's really focused, and he's a great person."
Mats Zuccarello also scored in the shootout, and Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan had goals in regulation.
PA Parenteau and Miles Wood scored and Cory Schneider stopped 24 shots as the Devils lost their sixth straight. Michael Cammalleri had a shootout goal.
"Things are going to happen in hockey games," Cammalleri said. "We aren't hiding from the fact that we're on a losing streak and we have to get out of it."
Parenteau broke a scoreless tie early in the second with his seventh goal of the season and the Devils on the power play. Parenteau pushed a loose puck underneath Lundqvist and off the post, but the Rangers' goalie inadvertently hit the puck into the net as he tried to cover it up.
The Rangers upped the pressure in the third and after several chances that were stopped by Schneider. New York finally found the back of the net as Mats Zuccarello quickly swung the puck from behind the net to Kreider, who tapped the puck in to even the score at 8:10.
The Devils quickly responded to recapture the lead with 9:28 left in the third. Adam Henrique forced Dan Girardi to turn over the puck behind the Rangers' net, fought off two Rangers players and sent the puck to Wood, who got a quick shot off in front of the net to give the Devils the 2-1 lead.
However the Rangers kept pressing and tied it with 1:13 left in regulation as Stepan redirected the puck past Schneider.
"It's not the result we wanted so that's a little frustrating and disappointing," Schneider said. "I thought our defending was good here against a really offensive team, but again at the end of the day it's the two points that matter."
Sunday was the final time the Devils will play at Madison Square Garden this season and the loss extended their struggles away from Prudential Center. New Jersey is now 4-11-5 on the road and looking snap their six game skid.
NOTES: Forwards Jacob Josefson, Luke Gazdic and Devante Smith-Pelly were healthy scratches for New Jersey. . Devils F Andy Greene has skated in 342 consecutive games dating back to March 6, 2012. . Rangers C Mika Zibanejad missed his 15th game due to a broken fibula that he suffered during a game against Ottawa on Nov. 20. . New York scratched F Brandon Pirri and D Adam Clendening.
Devils: Host Nashville on Tuesday night.
Rangers: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.