NEW YORK (AFP) –
Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for the shutout and Dan Girardi scored the third period go-ahead goal as New York beat New Jersey 3-0 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference series.
Chris Kreider and Artem Anisimov each had a goal and an assist for the Rangers who were fresh off winning a decisive game seven against the Washington Capitals on the weekend.
“It starts with our work habits,” Lundqvist said. “How hard we want to work and we have been doing that all year.”
Game two of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Girardi scored on a slap shot from the right point that beat Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur who was screened on the play.
Rangers forward Kreider passed the puck back to the point to a wide open Girardi who had just come off the Rangers’ bench to join the play. New York forward Derek Stepan deftly provided the screen on Girardi’s shot which Brodeur never saw.
The game was tied 0-0 after two periods but then New York broke it open with three goals in the third.
“In second period they made it tough for us but we are comfortable playing in the third,” Lundqvist said.
Kreider scored with eight minutes left in the period after taking a pass from Anisimov and firing a snap shot past Brodeur to make it 2-0.
The 40-year-old Brodeur stopped 25 shots on Monday. But the future Hall of Famer was outplayed by Swede Lundqvist on this night.
Lundqvist is the main reason New York has advanced to the conference championship for the first time since 1997.
The 30-year-old Lundqvist earned his fourth Vezina Trophy nomination for his play this season.
The Atlantic Division rivals, the Devils and Rangers met six times during the regular season with each team winning three contests.