New Jersey Devils Back in Playoff Race with win Over Rival New York Rangers

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, left, of Sweden, is slow to get as New Jersey Devils center Sergey Kalinin, center, of Russia, celebrates with Lee Stempniak after scoring a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 5-2. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The New Jersey Devils avoided near-catastrophe when they outmuscled and outscored the New York Rangers 5-2 on Tuesday night.

”It’s a big win,” Lee Stempniak said. ”You can see where we are in the standings. Losing three games, it’s tough to keep pace with teams. To not get points in three straight, you are going to fall behind.”

And fall behind the Devils did.

This win, though, moved the Devils within a point of the eighth seed and a playoff spot. They are within a point of then-idle Pittsburgh and the Penguins have a few games in hand. This win must’ve felt good as they broke the Rangers three game win streak that they were riding.

”It’s a critical win,” said Cory Schneider, who made 17 saves. ”They are all important at this time of year. You can’t put a value on it but getting it against our rival after a three-game slide, it feels good.”

The Devils had five different goal scorers: Lee Stempniak, Kyle Palmieri, Sergey Kalinin, Adam Larsson, and Tyler Kennedy. Larsson’s was an empty net goal but counts all the same.

The Devils turned it on in the second period, scoring 17 shots on goal to the Rangers paltry five.

”It could have been our worst period of the year,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. ”Not to take anything away from Jersey but after what I believe was a real solid period where we had some real good looks, it was mistake after mistake in the second period. If it wasn’t for Hank, it wouldn’t have been a game at all.”

The Rangers’ 19 shots matched their season low which is all thanks to the Devils stingy defense. The Devils could have capitalized on a few more power plays, and were afforded a five minute match penalty when J.T. Miller fought with tape on his hands which is illegal and warranted the egregious penalty.

The Devils were unable to score on that particular power play but scored on another and scored a few goals even-strength to take this edition of the Hudson River Rivalry.

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