Rangers aim for 2-0 lead against Devils
New York is in the conference finals for the first time since 1997 and grabbed
the early lead in this series with a 3-0 victory in Monday’s Game 1. The 3-0
win was the largest margin of victory by New York in this year’s playoffs and
the Atlantic Division champions have yet to hold a two-game lead at any point
during this postseason.
Although New York only had one off day between eliminating Washington in Game
7 on Saturday and Monday’s contest, the Blueshirts did not appear to be
fatigued in Game 1 against the Devils. The score was tied at 0-0 after two
periods, but the Rangers dominated the final stanza to take Game 1 from sixth-
seeded New Jersey. Dan Girardi scored the game-winner just 53 seconds into the
third period for New York and Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves to record his
second shutout of this postseason.
Girardi, Artem Anisimov and Chris Kreider each posted a goal and an assist for
the Rangers, who also needed seven games to defeat the Ottawa Senators in the
“We just kept to our game plan and stuck with it,” said New York head coach
John Tortorella. “Our whole team skated well tonight and we got some big plays
when we needed them.”
New York has won seven of the last eight playoff series in which it has taken
Martin Brodeur turned aside 25-of-27 shots for the Devils, who defeated the
Panthers in seven games in the opening round then took down the Flyers in five
games in the second round to make the conference finals for the first time
since winning the Cup in 2003.
“Once they got the first one we had to open things up a bit and they were able
to take advantage,” said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. “We can’t get
frustrated by something we expected to happen. They play good defense over
there and we have to find a way to counter that.”
This series is a rematch of the 1994 conference finals, which the Rangers won
in seven games before going on to win their most recent Stanley Cup. New York
hasn’t been back to the Cup Finals since winning it all 18 years ago.
“I think this is going to be our toughest series yet,” said Lundqvist. “It’s
going to be tight out there and it will be a big battle. I don’t know how many
games this is going to go, but it’s going to be good.”
For the Rangers, this was their first win in the Eastern finals since a 5-4
decision at Philadelphia in Game 2 of that series on May 18, 1997. It was the
Blueshirts’ first home ECF victory since May 27, 1994, a 2-1 double-overtime
triumph over the Devils in Game 7.
The Rangers are 6-3 on home ice in the playoffs, while New Jersey is 4-4 as
the guest. This series will shift to Newark for Games 3 and 4 and the Devils
will host the next contest on Saturday.
As Atlantic Division combatants, the Devils and Rangers met six times during
the regular season and each team won three of those tilts. New York held a
slight advantage in goals, scoring 14 times in the season series while holding
the Devils to 12 tallies over the six contests.
The Blueshirts have dominated the postseason history against the Devils,
winning four of the five all-time playoff series between the clubs. New
Jersey’s only triumph came in the form of a sweep in the 2006 conference
quarterfinals, but the Rangers avenged that loss by eliminating the Devils in
five games in the opening round of the 2008 postseason.
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