New York Rangers blanked by Devils, season on the brink

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
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Erik Haula scored twice in a three-point game and goaltender Akira Schmid posted his first career playoff shutout as the New Jersey Devils claimed a 4-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series in Newark, N.J.

Dawson Mercer collected one goal and one assist and Ondrej Palat scored in the opening minute for the Devils, who hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

New Jersey has won three consecutive games after losing the first two of the series, all since Schmid was given the net. The rookie made 23 saves in the Game 5 victory, and he has stopped 80 of 82 shots faced in his trio of decisions.

The Devils will look to close out the series on Saturday in New York.

We’ve got to go home and win one game,” Rangers forward¬†Chris Kreider¬†said. “… We’ve had a terrific fan base all year, but we let them down. We let ourselves down at home so it’s up to us to show up and play the way we want to play from puck drop. It’s time to play a full 60 (minutes) and win a hockey game.”

New York Rangers in trouble

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Igor Shesterkin stopped 39 shots for the Rangers, who have scored only two goals in the past three games after tallying 10 times in the series’ first two contests.

Palat opened the scoring just 39 seconds into the clash. Off a faceoff, the puck came right to Shesterkin, who left a rebound that Palat buried off a defender’s stick for his second goal of the playoffs and second in as many outings.

Haula doubled the lead 3:27 into the second period when he was parked in front of the net and deflected Mercer’s shot for a power-play goal.

Mercer’s short-handed goal 10 minutes later made it a three-goal edge. Haula led a two-on-one rush and fed a cross-ice pass that Mercer launched with a one-timer for his first career playoff goal.

Although the Rangers were trailing, they failed to mount any form of an attack in the third period. There were outshot 20-2 in the final frame, which was capped by Haula’s empty-net goal, his third of the playoffs, with 5:12 remaining.

Through the first two periods, though, Schmid was the difference-maker. In the first period, he made a big glove save on Artemi Panarin. Schmid came up with a clutch diving glove stop on Kaapo Kakko seconds after his team established a 2-0 lead.

–Field Level Media

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