Rangers shut down Devils 3-0 in Eastern Conference Finals Game 1
Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider and Artem Anisimov each had a goal and assist in the third period and Henrik Lundqvist posted his fifth post-season shutout as the Rangers struck first in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last night, blanking the Devils 3-0.
The Devils had dominated the second period at Madison Square Garden, but couldn't solve Lundqvist, who made 21 saves. His teammates also blocked 26 shots.
Early in the third, Kreider had the puck along the right boards in the offensive zone and dropped a pass to Girardi, who raced in to join the rush, as Derek Stepan went to the net to screen Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur. His wrister went in at the 53-second mark. It was Girardi's second goal of the playoffs.
The Devils almost tied it a minute later. Kovalchuk, dangerous all night, one-timed a shot from the lower left circle, Lundqvist darted over to smother it. Brodeur had to dive across to glove Marc Staal's uncontested wrister from the left circle at about the 10-minute mark or it would have been 2-0. Steve Bernier was whistled for boarding at 10:24 and the Blueshirts, 0-for-3 on the power play and 9-for-60 in the playoffs, had a chance to seal the win. They did.
Kreider, coming down the left side, fired a high-glove wrister on a backhand pass from Artem Anisimov, and the Garden crowd, delirious after the Girardi goal, exploded again. Anisimov's empty-netter sealed it with 1:27 left.
Game 2 in the best of seven series is tomorrow. The Rangers have compiled a 32-11 series record when winning Game 1, including victories in seven of the eight playoff series in which they won the opening game. (with Newsday)