Rangers’ playoff experience showed in Game 1 win over Devils

They insisted it didn’t matter.

They said it wasn’t a big deal.

So what if the Rangers entered this first-round playoff series against the Devils with a cumulative 852 games of playoff experience, well more than their less-seasoned, cross-Hudson rivals?

So what if every player on the Rangers roster had played in at least one playoff series and the Devils’ top stars were playing in their first Stanley Cup playoff game Tuesday night at Prudential Center?

The Devils insisted their lack of postseason experience wasn’t going to be a factor in this series.

Well, after one game, the result — a resounding 5-1 Rangers win — appeared as rather stark evidence that the more playoff-experienced team looked sharper, more confident and more organized than the less-experienced one.

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider celebrates his second goal of the game with teammates during the third period.
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The Devils were 3-0-1 against the Rangers in the teams’ four regular-season meetings this season, winning both games played at The Rock.

The Rangers looked more sound and more comfortable in the big moment from the opening faceoff Tuesday night.

Their first period was virtually flawless.

Halfway into it they were leading 2-0 and had outshot the Devils 7-1.

Their penalty kill was a killer for the Devils, who failed to score on their first four power plays, three of which came in the first 20 minutes.

Rangers defenders seemed to have their bodies in every passing lane, blocking shot after shot and tipping away pass after pass.

“Playoff experience can go a long way,’’ Rangers forward Vincent Trocheck said before the game.

“The playoff experience helps a lot, because you know what to expect,’’ Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko said before the game.

Rangers center Barclay Goodrow shoots the puck while being defended by Devils right wing Timo Meier.
Rangers center Barclay Goodrow shoots the puck while being defended by Devils right wing Timo Meier.
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“We know what it takes to go decently far in the playoffs,’’ Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren said before he scored the Rangers’ third goal of the night. “I do think experience helps. We’ve got guys on this team that have won Stanley Cups and a lot of us were in the Eastern Conference final last year, so … it always helps when you know what it takes.’’

This was the Devils’ first playoff game in five years. Since 2012, they had played in just one playoff series, a five-game, first-round loss to the Lightning in 2018.

Yet Devils coach Lindy Ruff insisted before the game that lack of experience wasn’t going to be a factor for his team.

“I think you have to experience it in the moment,’’ Ruff said.

Follow The Post’s coverage of the Rangers vs. Devils NHL playoff series

Among the Devils playing in the postseason for the first time were Jack Hughes, Nathan Bastian, Dawson Mercer and Jesper Boqvist. Nico Hischier, Miles Wood and Damon Severson had five or fewer games of playoff experience.

The Devils added playoff experience to their locker room with the acquisitions of Ondrej Palat, Erik Haula, Brendan Smith and Dougie Hamilton.

Those players entered the game with 309 games of playoff experience between them. Timo Meier and Tomas Tatar also brought good playoff experience to the room.

“I feel like everybody will enjoy the moment,” Tatar told reporters before the game. “It’s very intense. It’s a lot of fun. You’ve been working 82 games to get to this spot and the first round is coming, we’ll do our best to be prepared. I’m sure guys will enjoy it.’’

There wasn’t a lot to enjoy on this night for the Devils.

Call it a bad experience.