After 14 games and two nail-biting playoff series wins, the New York Rangers insist they have plenty left to make a run at the Stanley Cup. If any proof was needed, Henrik Lundqvist provided it with a shutout victory over the well-rested New Jersey Devils in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.
Lundqvist made 21 saves in his fifth career playoff shutout. Rookie Chris Kreider, defenseman Dan Girardi, and Artem Anisimov all had a goal and an assist in the third period as the Rangers turned a scoreless game into a 3-0 win. It came two days after New York outlasted the pesky Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the second-round series.
“I don’t know where you guys get all this stuff about being tired,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “If we’re tired this time of the year, there’s something the matter. We still have a month to play. You might as well not even ask me questions about being tired.”
The Rangers said during their one day off before facing the Devils that they liked the rhythm of playing every other day, and didn’t think the quick turnaround would affect them. The Devils, however, had been off for five days since they knocked out the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
“It’s always tough to come from a Game 7. So emotional, and everything around it, and then start over,” Lundqvist said. “(Sunday) was all about regrouping, and move your focus to a new team and just a different type of game.
The Rangers are in the conference finals for the first time since 1997, and they haven’t reached the Stanley Cup finals since 1994, when they beat 22-year-old goalie Martin Brodeur and the Devils in a classic seven-game series that backed up captain Mark Messier’s guarantee.
–Game 2 is Wednesday night in New York.–
Video: Dan Girardi’s point shot gets through several screens and beats Martin Brodeur for a 1-0 lead.
Video: The Rangers need to lean on Henrik Lundqvist once again, this time off the stick of Ilya Kovalchuk.
Video: The Rangers get a powerplay goal from Chris Kreider to seal Game 1.