The much anticipated series between the second seeded New Jersey Devils and the third seeded New York Rangers got started in the home of the Devils, the Prudential Center. The goaltender match up was a promising one, pitting New York Rangers Igor Shesterkin against the New Jersey Devils Vitek Vanacek. New York would take the opener, 5-1.
New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers series should be a good one
The first period opened in a way the New Jersey Devils would turn their heads. New York Rangers forward Tarasenko scored 4:58 into the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, assisted by defenseman K’Andre Millar and Artemi Panarin.
New York would add to their lead, going up 2-0 on a redirect goal by longtime Ranger forward Chris Krieder. This goal was a power play goal at the 9:30 mark. Devils forward Miles Wood was called for holding at 9:14, giving the Rangers the opportunity to widen their lead, which they did. Defenseman Fox and Panarin would be credited with the assist on the play. The New York Rangers would close out the first period with a 2-0 lead and a 10-7 shot advantage.
The second period did not have much action from both teams in the early beginning but there were some quality opportunities. Shesterkin and Vanacek kept their respective teams in the game with some nice saves.
For most of the period, both teams made mistake free hockey but not much flow to the action. The next goal would be crucial, regardless of who would score it. The New York Rangers thought they went up 3-0 as forward Alexis Lafreniere scored but the goal was called back because of a high stick infraction 16:08 into the period, making the score still 2-0 for the time being.
The Rangers did make it 3-0 on a goal by defenseman Ryan Lindgren with assists from defenseman Fox and forward Chytil at 16:57. This would be the way the period ends as the shots were even in the period at eight a piece. The shots in the game were an 18-15 edge for the Rangers.
The third period began with the Devils hanging on for dear life. The score was 3-0 and the Devils needed to play a perfect period. The odds were against them but they had a solid, all-around team. Vanacek had played solid but not solid enough as the Devils were fighting themselves.
Things for the New Jersey Devils would get worse as Kreider would score his second of the game on the power play from Fox and Kane at 11:07 of the third. New Jersey would get on the board as young star Jack Hughes would score his first career playoff goal on a penalty shot to make the score 4-1.
Chytil would put the Devils out of their misery as he scored an empty net goal at 18:02 of the third period, assisting Adam Fox and Kappo Kakko. The shots would end up being 28-23 in favor of the Devils, outshooting the Rangers 13-5 in the third. The power play chances would be in favor of the Rangers as they went 2-3, while the Devils went 0-4. The third star went to Fox, who had four assists. The second star went to Shesterkin, who had a marvelous game, saving 27 of 28 shots. The first star went to Kreider who had two goals, including the game-winner.
Game two will also be in New Jersey on Thursday, April 20 at 7:30 PM ET. If game one was any indication, this series should be a good one.