What it means: Exacting revenge for last spring, the Rangers snuffed out the Devils' playoff hopes with a 4-1 win that mathematically eliminated New Jersey from contention at Madison Square Garden Sunday. Captain Ryan Callahan led the way, notching two goals to dismantle the Devils with Henrik Lundqvist pitching in to the tune of 26 saves. The Devils, who knocked off the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals last season, have now missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.
After taunting Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur throughout the game, the crowd at MSG broke out into chants of "Sea-son's O-ver!" with about nine minutes remaining in regulation. The Devils and Rangers face one another again next Saturday in the last game of the regular season.
Payback for Rangers: With a 3-0 lead in the third period, Callahan served up the dagger with his second goal of the day. Callahan lifted the puck over Brodeur, who sprawled face first in the crease, to make it 4-0 and essentially close the door on their division rivals. With an assist on Callahan’s third-period marker, alternate captain Brad Richards now has seven points in the past three games.
Skid snapped: Though the Devils carried play in the first half of the second period, Taylor Pyatt notched a pivotal goal that gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead, his first in 27 games. Richards intercepted Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov’s pass along the boards and dished off to Pyatt, who had not scored since February 26.
DeBoer distressed: Devils coach Pete DeBoer was livid about a number of calls during the game, particularly after a missed too-many-men penalty that went unnoticed toward the end of the second period. The Devils earned a bench minor with 5:18 left to play for "abuse of officials." Alternate captain Patrik Elias would later earn an unsportsmanlike conduct in the third period. DeBoer was tossed from the game with less than a minute in regulation.
Second guessing: Officiating might not have been the only thing DeBoer was second guessing. DeBoer opted to scratch defenseman Mark Fayne in favor of the more physical Volchenkov, who returned after sitting four games while serving a suspension for elbowing Boston’s Brad Marchand. Volchenkov’s costly turnover might have been a turning point in the game.
Early lead: With a combined 14 goals in their previous two games, the Rangers carried over their offensive momentum into the first period Sunday. Callahan got the Blueshirts on the board with a goal only 34 seconds into play, banking the puck in off Brodeur’s right skate. Derek Stepan extended the Rangers' lead later in the period, tipping in Ryan McDonagh’s point shot at the 12-minute mark for a 2-0 advantage.
Strong PK: Though they surrendered two even-strength goals, the Devils were excellent on the penalty kill in the first period. New Jersey killed off four Rangers power plays, including 23 seconds of 5-on-3 time.