Rangers eliminate Devils from East playoff race
- Article by: IRA PODELL
- Associated Press
- April 21, 2013 - 5:08 PM
NEW YORK - Ryan Callahan scored a goal in the opening minute and another in the third period, and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves as the New York Rangers eliminated the New Jersey Devils from the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-1 victory on Sunday.
Callahan provided the lead 34 seconds in, Derek Stepan added a goal in the first period, and Taylor Pyatt snapped a long drought in the second for the eight-place Rangers, who are inching closer to a playoff berth.
Callahan made it 4-0 at 5:13 of the third with a power-play goal, flipping a shot over sprawled-out goalie Martin Brodeur, who tried to poke away the puck. Brodeur heard derisive chants of "Mar-ty, Mar-ty" throughout and finished with 18 saves.
Lundqvist was solid in his 12th straight start, allowing only Andrei Loktionov's goal with 6:30 remaining.
The Devils' longshot playoff hopes were dashed, meaning last season's conference champions won't get a chance to defend their title. New Jersey had won two straight following a 10-game skid (0-6-4).
Madison Square Garden fans serenaded the Devils with chants of "Season's over" as time ticked down in the third.
Of the teams behind the Rangers, only Winnipeg can now catch them. New York is even in points with seventh-place Ottawa, but the Senators have four games remaining — one more than the Rangers.
New York has won three straight and is 8-2-1 in its last 11.
With a 3-0 lead heading into the third period, the Rangers had all but sealed New Jersey's fate. New York is 85-0-6 when leading after two periods, dating to Feb. 4, 2010.
The Rangers came out quickly, seemingly motivated to put the Devils away early. New Jersey eliminated New York in last year's Eastern Conference finals.
New York connected right away, scoring while Brodeur was looking the opposite way from where the puck was. Carl Hagelin worked to get free from Devils defenders behind the net, and flung the puck in front to Callahan, who was near the left post.
While Brodeur had his head turned away from him, trying to find the puck he thought was behind the net, Callahan nudged it forward off of Brodeur's skate and into the net for his 13th goal of the season.
The Rangers had chances to build on their early, but couldn't convert on four power-play opportunities — including a brief 5-on-3 advantage.
However, New York struck again at even strength when Stepan netted his 16th of the season at 12:00. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh flipped a shot from the left point, and Stepan stuck his stick into traffic in the slot and managed to tip the puck past Brodeur.
The Rangers, who scored 14 total goals in back-to-back wins over Florida and Buffalo on Thursday and Friday, took a 2-0 lead despite recording only seven shots in the first period.
New Jersey got off to a much better start in the second, logging prolonged time in the Rangers end and even firing two drives that Lundqvist turned aside with his mask in the opening 2 minutes.
The Devils had a 6-0 lead in shots in the second, before the Rangers recorded their first with 15:33 left, but they still couldn't solve Lundqvist, who made a sharp pad save on Loktionov at the right post.
New Jersey outshot the Rangers 12-10 and carried the bulk of the play in the middle frame, but yielded the only goal of the period.
That one went to Pyatt, who had gone 26 games without a goal — dating to Feb. 26 against Winnipeg. Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov turned over the puck during a clearing attempt to Brad Richards.
Richards carried the puck up the right wing boards and feathered a pass between the circles to Pyatt, who ripped a drive over Brodeur's glove at 11:56 for his fifth goal of the season.
NOTES: Pyatt played in his 800th NHL game. ... Rangers C Brian Boyle missed his third straight game because of a right leg injury. ... Volchenkov returned after serving a four-game suspension for elbowing. ... The Rangers are 15-0 this season when leading after two periods. ... Devils captain Bryce Salvador is likely to miss the final three games because of a hand injury that has kept him out since April 12. ... New Jersey received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. One gave the Rangers a two-man advantage, and the other cut short New Jersey's third-period power play and led to Callahan's second goal. Devils coach Pete DeBoer was ejected in the closing seconds of the game.
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