Prudential Center—-The New Jersey Devils were playing a little soccer in the hallway just outside the media room to ease their nerves for game 7 against the NY Rangers. And it worked for them.
Rookie goalie Akira Schmid made 31 saves between the pipes for his second shutout of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was taken out of Game 3 with his team trailing 2-0 in the series at the time.
The Devils won their first playoff series since 2012, eliminating their cross town rival New York Rangers, 4-0. From the start, the Devils dominated the ice until the horn sounded off.
“He played a heck of a game. I mean, he had a heck of a series. You envisioned things, but you don’t really envision what he did,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said.
NJ will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, starting Wednesday in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carolina took care of the New York Islanders in six games.
NJ took a 1-0 lead on a all out effort penalty killing by Ondrej Palat.
Jesper Bratt was in the penalty box for tripping, Palat harassed Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and forward Chris Kreider in their own zone, forcing a turnover. Mika Zibanejad made a desperation attempt to cut off Palat from the NY Rangers’ net, but Palat hit Michael McLeod with a nice pass. McLeod sent it through with a backhand shot between the pipes at 9:53 of the second period.
“An incredible effort. I mean, that is just playoff hockey. The first, second and third effort. To stay on it. To create the turnover and get it to Michael. That’s why we have him there,” Ruff said.
The Devils made it 2-0 on a play that started with a rush to the net by defenseman John Marino, goalie Igor Shesterkin made a great save, but Marino got the bounced puck back and he passed it back toward the crease. That’s where Tomas Tatar smashes puck passed Shesterkin at 15:39 of the second, and the Devils took that lead into the second intermission.
Gallant said the effort from his top players was “not enough” against the Devils.
The finished off their rivals off at 14:27 of the third period on an Erik Haula goal, which made many of the Rangers fans to exit the Prudential Center quickly. Bratt added an empty-netter to cap off the scoring.
The Rangers won the first two games of the series in New Jersey, only to see the Devils roll off three straight wins. New York pushed it to a seventh game with a win at home in Game 6, only to fall short.
For the Rangers, it was a frustrating end this season this way. New York made the Eastern Conference finals last year and stack their club with star wingers Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, both pending free agents. The Rangers had a deep pool of talented offensive players, but coach Gerard Gallant said that wasn’t enough.
You can have all the talent in the world on paper but Championships are not won on paper they are won on the ice.