New York Rangers jump on Devils early for Game 1 victory

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers looked like a team ready to start the NHL playoffs thanks to their experience from last season and the veteran additions made at the trade deadline.

Vladimir Tarasenko opened the scoring early to put a nervous looking New Jersey Devils squad on their heels. Meanwhile, Chris Kreider and Adam Fox had historic evenings to lift the Rangers to a Game 1 win.

“We had a real good first game,” Gerard Gallant said. “We played the right way. We talked about managing the puck and not committing turnovers giving them odd-man rushes. I thought we played a really good 60 minute hockey game.”

New York Rangers take it to Devils

new york rangers
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers put on their hardhats from the drop of the puck until the final buzzer as they played a low-risk, physical, and smart game.

Tarasenko opened the scoring at the 4:58 mark by muscling past Devils’ defenders on the right wall to come away with the puck. Artemi Panarin supported the play and helped get it to K’Andre Miller who picked up the primary assist.

For Tarasenko, it was his 42nd career playoff goal which ranks fourth, tied with Alex Ovechkin for most postseason goals since 2013.

“It’s nice to start with a win,” Tarasenko said. “Igor played great and I think we can play better to make our goalie’s life easier.”

Chris Kreider scored his first of two power play goals less than five minutes later tipping an Adam Fox point shot. Panarin picked up another helper on the historic play as Kreider became the franchise leader in all-time goals surpassing Rod Gilbert’s 34 tallies.

The Devils had a serious push to start the second period but Igor Shesterkin was brilliant en route to a 27 save performance. Throughout the night, the Rangers stepped up and blocked shots with Barclay Goodrow leading all forwards with three.

New York responded midway through the frame as they slowly began wearing down New Jersey.

This time it was Ryan Lindgren scoring a goal you usually see coming off the sticks of the the game’s best offensive stars. With the Kid Line applying pressure in the zone, Filip Chytil got the puck to Fox who weaved his way into the slot. He dished it off to his partner for a bar down score over Vitek Vanecek’s right shoulder with 3:03 remaining.

In the third period, the Rangers made a little more history for the record books.

On the power play, Patrick Kane moved the puck to Fox at the point. He took another shot meant for a deflection with Kreider happy to oblige. The goal made him the franchise all-time leader in playoff power play goals with 14.

“We won Game 1,” Kreider continued deflecting, this time to a question asking about his accomplishments. “Game 2 is the hardest one to win after you win Game 1.”

Jack Hughes was gifted a penalty shot late in the game to ruin Sheterkin’s shutout bid. However, Filip Chytil would register an empty-net goal with Kaapo Kakko and Fox picking up the apples.

It was Fox’s fourth assist making him only the second defenseman in NHL playoff history to accomplish the feat more than once. His first was last season in Game 6 of their first-round victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. According to OptaSTATS, Paul Coffey did it four times.

When it was all said and done, the Rangers special teams played a huge role in this game by going a perfect 4-4 on the PK and 2-3 on the power play.

The Rangers will look to extend their series lead in Jersey on Thursday. Start time for Game 2 is 7:30 pm.

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