Chris Kreider scores twice: Rangers take 2-0 series lead in 5-1 laugher over Devils

Rangers dominate Game 2 by 5-1 final
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin, left, watches the puck during the second period of Game 2 of the team’s NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J., Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photos

NEWARK — When New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury made key deadline deals for top veterans in March, the expectation was that it would take some time for the team to gel. 

Through two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it appears Drury has created an absolute juggernaut of offensive talent. 

Chris Kreider tallied another two goals on the powerplay while Patrick Kane recorded three points in an offensive demolition that gave the Rangers a 5-1 blowout win, and a 2-0 series lead over the New Jersey Devils Thursday night.  

“We have a lot of work today. It’s nice to come out here 2-0 but we know it’s far from over. We’ve been in this situation before you got to keep playing one game at a time,” Gerard Gallant said after the win. 

After New York jumped out to an early lead in Game 1, it was New Jersey’s turn to strike first – this time with Erik Haula scoring on the powerplay. The Devils’ 1-0 lead was also the first few shots on goal via special teams this series and Haula’s 13th postseason goal. 

We weren’t too worried about the way we played (in the first) at least I thought we played really well in the first. It was just a matter of sticking with our game,” Vincent Trocheck told AMNY.

The wheels would fall off for the Devils the minute the second period began though. Thanks to a tying score from Vladimir Tarasenko and another two-goal powerplay run from Kreider in as many games, the Rangers overwhelmed their cross-town rivals to take a 3-1 lead after two. Any hope of a Devils comeback was cut short seven minutes into the third when, on a breakaway, Kane tallied his first playoff goal as a member of the Rangers and fourth total within the first two playoff games to put the Blueshirts out in front 4-1.

“Just kind of picked the pocket of Brad there and pushed the puck ahead. Seemed like I had a step on their d-man, and Kreider and I were going on a 2-on-0. I was looking to pass to him but they kind of took him away…It was nice to see it go in,” Kane said breaking down the play.

Kaapo Kakko’s score late in the third would make the contest a 5-1 laugher while the Rangers moved the series into a 2-0 lead. 

The Rangers’ dominance offensively seemed to overshadow the defensive effort that continuously frustrated and confused the young Devils. Igor Shesterkin tallied 21 saves and a .950 save percentage to shut the door on any hope for a Devils’ comeback 

The 10-2 scoring margin for the Blueshirts within the first two playoff games is the largest margin of victory the Rangers have had since the Stanley Cup Championship season in 1994 – and not even the current players have been expecting this level of domination. 

“I don’t think anyone’s expecting to come in and beat a team 5-1 in the playoffs against a really good team. I think we were expecting to play the way we’ve been playing,” Trocheck concluded. 

Game Three between the cross-town rivals is set for 8:00 pm – ET on Saturday. 

Game Notes

  • The stars were out in droves in New Jersey Thursday night. 2x Super Bowl Champion and former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was in attendance of Game 2 and received an ovation from the home New Jersey crowd. 
  • New Jersey made quick line adjustments after their Game 1 loss to New York. Timo Meier, after working with Jack Hughes on Tuesday, was bumped up to the first line with Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer. 
  • Kreider and Kane may have gotten the spotlight, but Adam Fox continued his dominant playoff performance on Thursday. On Tarasenko’s score, Fox recorded his sixth assist of the series in the first five periods of play – the sixth defenseman in NHL history with six points through his first two games in a playoff year. 
  • Game 2 was anything but clean. With New York up 5-1 and coasting to a 2-0 series lead several game misconducts were handed out to both sides. Fox, Braden Schneider, Barclay Goodrow, and Jimmy Vesey were all ejected along with a handful of Devils. 

For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com