New York Rangers blank New Jersey in East finals opener | NHL playoffs
The host New York Rangers opened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
NEW YORK — Rangers rookie Chris Kreider and defenseman Dan Girardi each had a goal and an assist in the third period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots for his fifth career playoff shutout, as weary New York opened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the well-rested New Jersey Devils on Monday.
Playing two days after eliminating Washington in a stirring 2-1 Game 7 victory, the top-seeded Rangers hit their home ice again and won their third straight Game 1 of this postseason.
The Devils had been off for five days since they knocked out the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
No team forced to play seven-game series in each of the first two rounds has gone on to win the Stanley Cup, but the Rangers are determined to be the first. Shaking off suggestions they are tired, the Rangers slogged through two scoreless periods and pulled out a victory with a strong third period.
"I think it starts with work habits, how hard we want to work," Lundqvist said. "And then the skill takes over. We have been doing it all year."
New York outshot the Devils 28-21, including 10-4 in the third period.
The Rangers are in the conference finals for the first time since 1997.
New Jersey is making its first conference finals appearance since 2003, the year the Devils won the Cup for the third time.
Game 2 is Wednesday in New York.
• Dale Hunter quit as coach of the Washington Capitals after less than a full season in the job, telling the team he wants to return to his family in Canada.
"It was the right thing to do," said Hunter, who owns the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League — a junior team seeking the Memorial Cup.
Hunter went 30-23-7 in the regular season after taking over for the fired Bruce Boudreau.