Lundqvist pulled in Rangers' loss to Devils

New Jersey Devils right wing David Clarkson (23) New Jersey Devils right wing David Clarkson (23) flips over New York Rangers left wing Sean Avery (16) as they fight during the second period at Madison Square Garden. (Feb. 3, 2011) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

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A one-goal loss to the Panthers. An overtime loss to the Penguins. And last night, a 3-2 Rangers loss to the Devils at the Garden in which Henrik Lundqvist was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots.

"We probably could've had five out of six points," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Let's call a spade a spade. Our goaltending hasn't been there. Certainly not at the level it needs to be at this time of year . . . I'm not calling out Hank, but I need to be honest. Our goaltending hasn't been good enough. We've played some good hockey. I think we get probably five out of the six points if it's just decent goaltending."

Lundqvist, who had faced the Devils' Martin Brodeur 28 times during the regular season and almost always emerged on the plus side - 19-4-5 with a 1.69 GAA, a .939 save percentage and four shutouts - didn't have it, and he admitted as much.

"Some weird goals lately and some bad goals," said Lundqvist, who likely will back up Martin Biron Saturday at Bell Centre in Montreal, where he has struggled. "The next couple of days, I'm going to work really hard and get my game going. I haven't been practicing much with the [All-Star] break. If I'm going to get more minutes here, I need to be better. I'm not upset for getting pulled. I know I have to play better. It's a big game . . . I feel low on energy here."

Lundqvist left after Brian Rolston's high slapper whizzed by as he was down in a split, giving the Devils (8-1-1 in the last 10) a 3-0 lead.

Lundqvist never seemed comfortable, fighting the puck from the start, and despite a five-on-three goal from Vinny Prospal at 2:21 of the third - in his first game of the season after October knee surgery - and Ryan Callahan's second goal in two games, the Devils hung on.

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With eight-tenths of a second left in regulation and Biron on the bench for an extra attacker, Brandon Dubinsky's deflection of Callahan's shot hit the far post and bounced away as time ran out.

Just 1:04 into the game, Ilya Kovalchuk's wrister from the outside of the right circle tipped Mike Sauer's knee, hit the crossbar and went in.

The Rangers held the Devils to one shot in 40 seconds of a five-on-three when Brandon Prust joined Marc Staal in the penalty box at 11:20 of the first. In that sequence, Lundqvist gloved Kovalchuk's slap shot and appeared to injure his glove hand. Trainer Jim Ramsay came out for a look and Lundqvist remained in the game. Perhaps Tortorella wishes he had replaced him then.

The ugly goal against Lundqvist came at 8:01 of the second, when he couldn't squeeze his pads quite enough and Dainius Zubrus' slap shot got through. As the puck began to trickle behind him, Dan Girardi's swipe at the goal line sent the puck off Lundqvist to make it 2-0.

The Rangers were 0-for-5 on their five-on-four power plays but came close. With an open net, Dubinsky - in an awkward position - flicked the puck off the crossbar.

"Tough breaks," he said. "We have to find a way to cash in a couple opportunities."

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