It was more than just another win for Henrik Lundqvist.
He tied Dominik Hasek for the most wins (389) by a European-born goalie in NHL history, stopping three of four shots by the Devils in a shootout to secure a 3-2 win for the Rangers on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. It was the Blueshirts’ third win in a row and sixth in seven games.
Kevin Hayes scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout after Mats Zuccarello opened by beating Cory Schneider. Zuccarello, who also scored in a shootout in Saturday’s win over the Predators, is 17-for-34 in shootouts.
Lundqvist, who had 29 saves through overtime, was beaten by Mike Cammalleri but stopped Taylor Hall, P.A. Parenteau and Damon Severson.
“I thought we did a really good job in the third to turn it up,” Lundqvist said. “You can never give up . . . The way the guys continued to work when we got down a goal, that was impressive and it builds character.”
Since the rout of the Devils last Sunday, when the Rangers scored five times, they had found the net for only four goals in three games — only two at even strength and none on the power play.
That includes Jesper Fast’s midair swipe in a loss to the Blackhawks and Rick Nash’s tally in Nashville before the Blueshirts prevailed in a shoot out. Nash also scored shorthanded in Dallas and Zuccarello added an empty-netter.
Somehow the Blueshirts (23-10-1) won two of those three, and Sunday night’s game was another match decided past regulation.
“At the beginning of the season, we were scoring in bunches. Now we are down to one or two a game,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We are finding ways to win those games. That’s the timely save, that’s making the high-percentage play . . .
“Tonight probably wasn’t one of our prettiest games.”
With the Rangers trailing 2-1, Derek Stepan redirected Ryan McDonagh’s pass past Schneider with 1:13 left in the third period. Stepan has a point in seven of his last 10 games against New Jersey. Schneider finished with 25 saves through overtime.
Stepan, who won the offensive-zone faceoff, hadn’t scored in seven games. “It’s a heck of a play by Mac and a big goal for me,’’ he said. “It relieves a little pressure and allows me to continue to play.”
It was the Rangers’ third game in four nights. The jump wasn’t always there until the third period, and a troubling tendency resurfaced: passing up shots on their two power plays. The unit is 0-for-7 in the past three games.
To be fair, the first goal by the Devils wasn’t a slick play, either. With Marc Staal in the box for delay of game for clearing the puck into the netting, Parenteau’s rebound of Kyle Palmieri’s shot at the right post slid under Lundqvist, who was on his back. Reaching back, Lundqvist nudged it in himself with his blocker at 4:37 of the second period.
It was only the eighth time that the struggling Devils (12-12-7) had a lead going into the third period this season.
Chris Kreider, left alone in front, tied the score at 1 on a short pass from Zuccarello at 8:10, but the lead didn’t last. With Dan Girardi and Zuccarello unable to secure the puck behind the net, Adam Henrique grabbed it and sent it in front to Miles Wood, who slammed it in at 10:32.
Stepan said of the third period: “I thought we did a lot of good things. They find a way to score a goal, it’s going to happen. I just liked our response. We find a way to get it into overtime and get a huge second point.”