The New York Rangers’ first-round game one win was so nice they decided to do it twice. Once again, Vladimir Tarasenko got them on the board, Chris Kreider tipped home two power-play goals, and goaltender Igor Shesterkin kept the high-octane New Jersey Devils at bay. The result was their second straight 5-1 victory on Thursday, for a 2-0 series lead, which they’ll take to a raucous Madison Square Garden for game three on Saturday night.
As expected, the Devils changed their lineup and began the contest looking to cause havoc using their physicality and trademark transition game. Prudential Center erupted when Erik Haula pounced on a loose puck for a power play goal and a 1-0 Devils lead, but it was all Rangers from there. Patrick Kane, who admitted, “People should expect more from me,” after a sluggish game one despite recording an assist, registered a goal and two assists in game two. His breakaway goal in the third period extended New York’s lead to 4-1, serving as the backbreaker.
It’s no secret this Devils team is younger and inexperienced when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs, which was a card fans played following game one. However, there was no simply no excuse for Thursday’s debacle. “This team looks petrified,” a Devils season ticket holder said. “I don’t know what they must do to change things, but they got to figure it out quickly.”
This series isn’t over yet. But for one that was expected to go the distance, we’re now in a position where it’ll be over by Monday, should the Rangers take care of home ice.
“There’s a long way to go,” Rangers Captain Jacob Trouba said. “I think everybody knows that. It’s a pretty even-keeled, level-headed group in here. That’s a fun game to be a part of, so I think you got some smiles and energy out of that. But after tonight, turn the page, worry about tomorrow, and prepare for Game 3.” The film portion of that preparation should stay within game two.