Avery took everything the New Jersey Devils threw at him in a physical sense, and Lundqvist turned aside all 38 shots the slumping Atlantic Division leaders fired his way in sending the New York Rangers to a 3-0 victory on Monday night.
“I haven't had as many as last year,” Lundqvist said of his third shutout of the season. “I'm happy for this one. Guys worked really hard for me. I made up my mind before the third period I wanted this one.”
Lundqvist earned his 20th NHL shutout, 10 of which came last season. Brodeur is two behind Terry Sawchuk's career league record of 103.
“It gives you an extra good feeling to play against the best players in the league,” Lundqvist said.
So much was made of the Avery-Brodeur matchup, the first since Brodeur returned from a 50-game injury absence, and Avery came back to the Rangers after a failed stint in Dallas. Not much drama materialized there, but Avery was certainly a target.
Avery annoyed David Clarkson enough in the third period to get the New Jersey enforcer off the ice.
The two were locked up in the Rangers zone, with Clarkson tugging on Avery, who chose not to drop the gloves. Clarkson kept pulling until Avery fell to the ice face first. Clarkson got a double penalty for roughing plus a misconduct. Avery earned only two minutes for roughing.
“It's a 3-0 game at that point, I don't think that there's anything to gain by doing anything,” Avery said. “It certainly takes discipline for sure. You fight for your team and for your teammates. At that point I didn't need to fight for either of them.”
Clarkson was trying to spark his team that has scored only six goals during a season-high, five-game skid (0-4-1).
Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman Dan Girardi scored 2:04 apart during New York's three-goal second period. Ryan Callahan added his 21st goal for the Rangers, who bounced back from a disappointing 0-1-1 road trip and moved within a point of sixth-place Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
New York (40-28-9) also stretched its lead to four points over Florida, which is below the postseason cutoff.
“We're still fighting for our lives,” coach John Tortorella said. “We are just trying to find a way to get points.”
The Devils have already clinched a playoff berth and lead the Atlantic by six points over Philadelphia, but have dropped six of seven (1-5-1) since Brodeur broke Patrick Roy's NHL career record for wins by a goalie.
“We have six games left and we have to find a way to get through this,” Brodeur said.
New Jersey, which held a 38-37 shots advantage, is one point behind second-place Washington in the East.