Newark, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) – Kevin Hayes notched a goal and two assists to
help the New York Rangers clinch home-ice advantage throughout the upcoming
playoffs via a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
New York’s fifth win in a row secured the club both the No. 1 seed in the
Eastern Conference and the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team that records
the most points during the regular season.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh. “Like any
team, we had to handle adversity, injuries and ups and downs. To say we won
the regular season is a huge confidence boost and a huge reassurance what this
team is capable of doing.”
The Rangers also matched a franchise single-season record, set when they last
captured the Stanley Cup back in 1993-94, with their 52nd win. That’s also the
most recent time the Blueshirts captured the Presidents’ Trophy.
“It just shows we have a deep team that was successful from start to finish,”
Carl Hagelin added a goal and an assist and both McDonagh and James
Sheppard scored as well for New York. Cam Talbot finished with 19 saves.
New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider bounced back from a dismal showing in
Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden to stop 36-of-39
Steve Bernier recorded a goal and an assist in the loss, the Devils’ eighth in
nine games, while Patrik Elias had a power-play tally in defeat.
A dominant first two periods carried the Rangers to their latest triumph. New
York outshot the Devils 33-10 over the initial 40 minutes, including a
whopping 19-4 margin in an opening stanza in which it scored twice within a
Hagelin set up the first by knocking the puck away from Eric Gelinas
behind the New Jersey net, with the disc trickling straight to Hayes for the
rookie to bury it home with 6:15 remaining in the period.
The Rangers then quickly cashed in on a hooking penalty to Jacob Josefson.
Just seven seconds after the infraction, McDonagh beat Schneider glove-side on
a wrist shot with Rick Nash setting a screen in front of the crease.
New Jersey trimmed its deficit by converting a power-play chance of its own
before the conclusion of the frame, as Elias scored on a quick delivery from
the slot off a feed from Bernier 2:16 prior to the first intermission.
Schneider, pulled after letting three goals on only six shots on Saturday,
kept the Devils in it with a strong and busy second period as well, coming up
with 14 more stops and helping kill off four New Jersey penalties to maintain
the 2-1 score.
However, he wasn’t able to prevent Sheppard’s tip-in on a give from Dominic
Moore just past the midway mark of the period, though Bernier answered less
than a minute afterward when his shot during a rush hit off the stick of the
Rangers’ Derick Brassard and crossed the line to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Devils weren’t able to come up with an equalizer, though, with Hagelin
sealing the victory on an empty-net score with 1:48 to go.
“There’s certain teams that you may struggle against or you don’t have success
against, but when it’s [the Rangers] it makes it worse,” Schneider remarked.
The Rangers also won the Presidents’ Trophy during the 1991-92 season in
addition to 1993-94 … New York head coach Alain Vigneault previously led the
Vancouver Canucks to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
He joins Joel Quenneville, Mike Keenan and Scotty Bowman as the only coaches
to win the trophy with two different organizations … The Rangers took all
four meetings with New Jersey this season, their first sweep of the Devils
since winnings all six regular-season matchups in 1993-94 … New York forward
Mats Zuccarello sat out the contest due to general soreness … The Devils
went 1-for-2 on the power play and killed off 6-of-7 short-handed chances.