New York Rangers falter in playoff preview versus Devils, lose 2-1

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

A poor opening period put the New York Rangers down 2-0 against the New Jersey Devils with a chance to move into a tie for second-place. Despite a much improved final 40 minutes from the Blueshirts, they were only able to solve Vitek Vanecek once on 23 tries.

With the loss, the Rangers are now four points behind the Devils, who are just one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first place.

“They were fast and quick, exactly what we expected,” Gerard Gallant noted. “I thought after the first period we played real well and picked up our game. We adjusted better in the second and third period but we have to come out better than we did.”

New York Rangers lose ground

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If this was a playoff preview of the Rangers first round opponent, it certainly showed that it will be an intense series. Of course, with the Devils winning three out of the four regular season contests, Blueshirts fans are likely not feeling too confident if that is indeed the matchup.

New Jersey was simply too fast for the Rangers in the first period as they watched Erik Haula and Timo Meier stake the Devils to a 2-0 lead on a 14-7 shot advantage.

Igor Shesterkin was excellent throughout the contest making 29 saves in the losing effort.

The Rangers only goal came in the second period with Chris Kreider taking a Mika Zibanejad feed in front for a power play goal. It was Kreider’s 33rd of the season and Zibanejad’s 82nd point (a career-high).

Kreider, who is the longest tenured Ranger on the team tied Vic Hadfield for fifth all-time on the franchise’s goal list (262).

New York had their chances to tie the game, but Vanecek was solid when called upon. One of his best stops came midway through the final frame thwarting Vincent Trocheck on a partial breakaway.

The Rangers almost tied the game with the goalie pulled as a puck squirted behind Vanecek and sat tantalizingly alone in the blue paint. Vladimir Tarasenko was about to put it home but defenseman Ryan Graves swept it away a millisecond before it could happen.

“Tight checking game,” Trouba explained. “They scored one more than we did.”

Defenseman Ryan Lindgren did not play once again. New York is back at it in Buffalo to take on the Sabres Friday night.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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