The playoff-seasoned Rangers looked the part in the opener of their First Round Series against the Devils on Tuesday night, beating New Jersey, 5-1, at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Chris Kreider scored twice and made club history by passing Rod Gilbert to become the Rangers’ all-time postseason leader in goals. Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan Lindgren also scored as the Rangers wrested home-ice advantage away from the Devils.
Igor Shesterkin was masterful, turning away several good scoring chances, including on the Devils’ young superstar, Jack Hughes, who was playing in his first career playoff game. Shesterkin stopped 27 shots overall, but Hughes got a measure of revenge with 2:46 left in the game, scoring on a penalty shot against the Rangers goalie to bring the Devs within three goals.
Filip Chytil scored an empty-net goal for the Rangers with 1:58 left.
There was a spirited atmosphere, on the ice and off, for the start of the seventh playoff series between the teams and the first since 2012. There was significant blue among the red jerseys in the stands and pro-Ranger chants could be heard, including those exhorting Shesterkin.
Game 2 is Thursday, again at The Rock.
Here are some takeaways…
– The Rangers dominated the first period, for the most part, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Tarasenko with 15:02 left and Kreider with 10:30 remaining. Kreider’s milestone goal all started when he won a faceoff in the Devils’ zone and then snuck next to New Jersey goalie’s Vitek Vanecek, uncovered. Waiting on the goalie’s left, Kreider tapped in a pass from Adam Fox (four assists) to lift the Ranger lead. The goal came just 16 seconds into the Rangers’ first power play of the evening. Artemi Panarin was also credited with an assist on the play.
– Kreider’s first goal was the 35th of his career, snapping the deadlock with Gilbert. He later added No. 36 in the third period, also on the power play. That first goal was also his 13th career power-play goal in the playoffs, matching Adam Graves for the most in Rangers’ history. Tarasenko’s goal, which came with a man on him after a nifty pass by K’Andre Miller, was the 42nd of his playoff career (in 91 games).
– The Rangers appeared to add to their lead with 3:52 left in the second period when Jacob Trouba unloaded a shot that appeared to be tipped in by Alexis Lafreniere. But the play was reviewed and officials deemed that the puck went in off a high stick, so it was disallowed.
– The Rangers did score less than a minute later when Ryan Lindgren skated in on Vanecek and flicked a wrist shot over the goalie’s right shoulder for a 3-0 lead. It was the third playoff goal of his career.
– Hughes was part of two nifty scoring chances for the Devils in the second period, but Shesterkin turned both away. With just under 12 minutes remaining in the period, he was behind the net and fed Tomas Tatar skating in for a strong try, but Shesterkin blocked Tatar’s shot with his body. With 7:25 left, Hughes took the puck away from Braden Schneider, wriggled past Niko Mikkola and fired on Shesterkin from in front, but the goalie thwarted that chance, too.
– In the third period, Shesterkin was huge again, stoning Ondrej Palat on a shot in front with just under 17 minutes remaining. With about 12:55 left, Ryan Graves clanked one off the post and Shesterkin blocked a rebound try in a scrum.
– The Rangers’ penalty-kill unit, ranked 13th in the NHL during the regular season, had a big night, holding the Devils scoreless in four chances.
The Rangers and Devils will face-off in Game 2 of the series at the Prudential Center on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
A multi-lingual talent head, Allen is fluent in languages such as Spanish, Russian, Italian, and many more. He has a special curiosity for the events and stories revolving in and around US and caters an uncompromising form of journalistic standard for the audiences.