The New York Rangers have officially knocked the New Jersey Devils out of the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-1 win on Sunday. The Devils looked to be back on track and in the playoff hunt after a 3-0 shutout win over the Philadelphia Flyers last week, but the Rangers cut their run short after jumping on the Devils early in the first period Sunday afternoon.
Ryan Callahan opened up the scoring for the Rangers with his 13th goal of the season just 34 seconds into the game. The Rangers were pushing the play behind the net when Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur lost sight of the puck.
Callahan picked up the puck near the right post while Brodeur was looking left and tapped it in for an early lead. Derek Stepan would make it a two-goal lead 12 minutes in when he found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the lockout-shortened season.
Taylor Pyatt made it 3-0 Rangers midway through the second period, which stood until the 5:13 mark of the third. Callahan then netted his second of the game on the powerplay to put away the Devils for good.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26-of-27 shots he faced on Sunday for his 22nd win of the season. The Rangers are now three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets for the final playoff spot in the East.
The Devils lone goal came late in the third period as Andrei Loktionov scored his eighth of the season with seven minutes left in the game. New Jersey took nine shots in the final frame but couldn’t bridge the gap after falling behind in the first two periods.
The 4-1 loss will keep the Devils from returning to the playoffs after making a run to the finals last season. The Devils went on to lose to the Los Angeles Kings in six games but were expected to contend again this year.
Those expectations were not met as the Devils will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Martin Brodeur has been between the pipes for the Devils for each of the past 20 seasons but his return next year is still up in the air.
Rangers coach John Tortorella noted that his team picked up the pace at the right time, and it showed in their offensive output on Sunday.
“I thought our whole team played pretty well away from the puck,” Tortorella said after the big win. “We scored some timely goals.”
The Rangers have three games left to hold off the Jets for the final playoff spot in the East and next face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. The Panthers have lost six straight games and haven’t been in the playoff discussion for over a month.
Can the New York Rangers hold on to the final playoff spot in the East after gaining momentum with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday?
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