NEWARK -- After shutting out Washington on Wednesday night, Henrik Lundqvist reverted to this season's inconsistent self Saturday night, then took the blame.
Against the previously winless Devils, the Rangers goaltender allowed four goals on 12 shots before the end of the second period. His teammates couldn't create any pressure on Cory Schneider, who made 22 saves as New Jersey snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 shutout.
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"Start with me," said Lundqvist, who was not sharp in reacting or controlling rebounds. "I need to come up with more saves and give the team a little more confidence. I know it's there. I showed it the other night.
"When things go against you, you tend to focus more on the negative side rather than the positive," Lundqvist said. "It's something I need to change. When I play well, my focus is really crisp and I make good decisions, and I feel like right now, it's a little up and down."
Missing captain Ryan Callahan (broken thumb), Rick Nash (concussion), and Carl Hagelin (offseason shoulder surgery), the Rangers never tested Schneider, who won his first game as a Devil after being obtained from Vancouver in a draft-day trade.
"We gave them 19 shots," Brad Richards said. "I don't think we were outplayed 4-0. Right now, it's tough offensively. We've got to find a way to be more desperate in that part of the ice. It's not going to be pretty. We've got to find a way to give more because it's a tough stretch right now. We've got to manufacture goals in different ways."
Coach Alain Vigneault conceded that Lundqvist needed to be better. "I'm not sure how much better we can be defensively," Vigneault said. "With the personnel we have available, we have to play a little bit closer to the vest, which we did. We gave up just eight scoring chances . . . and we didn't have a strong enough pushback offensively."
It's not as if the Devils were whole, either: Ryane Clowe (concussion), Patrik Elias (flu) and Damien Brunner (upper body) sat out and the lineup didn't exactly strafe Lundqvist.
Before the game, Vigneault, who coached Schneider in Vancouver, called him "one of the best goaltenders in the league . . . You need to get people inside, you need to get traffic and you need to get pucks at the net."
The Rangers (2-5) did nothing of the sort, generating only 12 shots in the first 40 minutes. "Most of the second period, we were defending," Dan Girardi said. "We had a couple long shifts. It's hard to get offense going when you're trying to get it out and get a change."
The die was cast early. John Moore's clearing attempt was snared by Anton Volchenkov, whose left-point slapper was stopped by Lundqvist, but he left a rebound at the feet of Andrei Loktionov, who fired it five-hole at 7:22.
Five minutes later, Rostislav Olesz sent a pass off the left boards, Adam Henrique collected it and Darroll Powe and Girardi let him by. Henrique skated to the circle and beat Lundqvist past his blocker at 12:37. Lundqvist kicked the air in frustration.
Michael Ryder tallied on a long shot on a power play at 6:00 of the second. Dainius Zubrus capped the scoring at 14:32 on a backhanded rebound. And the Rangers lost what appeared to be, on paper, a winnable game.