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Kreider scores 2 more, Rangers open 2-0 lead on Devils

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Rangers and Chris Kreider certainly picked the right time to get their power play in high gear.
New Jersey Devils' Timo Meier, center, is escorted off the ice for a misconduct penalty during the third period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers in Newark, N.J., Thursday, April 20, 2023. The Rangers defeated the Devils 5-1. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Rangers and Chris Kreider certainly picked the right time to get their power play in high gear.

Kreider scored two more power-play goals in a three-goal second period and the Rangers stunned the New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Thursday night to a take a 2-0 lead on the road in their first-round playoff series.

The series has revolved around the power play. The Rangers are 4 of 10 on their chances with the extra skater, with Kreider tipping in all four goals. The Devils are 1 for 8, so they are not scoring — and are giving up goals when defending.

“He’s one of the best, not only in the league, just that I have ever seen," said Patrick Kane, who had a goal and the two primary assists on Kreider's goals. “He’s able to get his stick on everything. In practice, we do a lot of drills where shots are coming from the point and he just tips everything.”

And they go in the net.

Rangers center Vincent Trocheck said while it might look as though the Devils are leaving Kreider alone in front of the net, New York has Kane, Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin and Kreider on the ice for their power plays.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily leaving him alone. I mean, it’s a 5-on-4,” Trocheck said. “ You got Panarin, Kane, Mika, Fox, Kreider out there. You’re going to take away four of them, but you don’t want to leave any of them open.”

Vladimir Tarasenko and Kaapo Kakko also scored and Fox added two more assists to give him six in two games. Igor Shesterkin had a relatively easy night, making 21 saves.

“Their power play has been dangerous," Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. "That has been the biggest difference”

Erik Haula scored for New Jersey, which has been outscored 10-2 after going 3-0-1 in the regular season against New York. Vitek Vanecek finished with 26 saves in a game that got one-sided and chippy late.

Referee Wes McCauley and Frederick L'Ecuyer sent five players from each team to the locker room with 6:40 left.

The best-of-seven series shifts across the Hudson River to Madison Square Garden for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

“No one’s over the moon. There's a long way to go,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said.

Haula put New Jersey on the board first with a rebound in the crease in the waning seconds of a power play.

Tarasenko got the Rangers going 5:53 into the second period, taking a pass from Fox and beating Vanecek with a shot from the top of the circles.

A little more than four minutes later, Kreider tipped a slap shot from Kane past the Devils goalie. He stretched the lead to 3-1, using great hand-eye coordination to pop a soft pass by Kane over Vanecek's shoulder into the net.

Kane scored on a breakaway at 6:34 of the third period after sustained Devils pressure. Kakko scored in close shortly after a New Jersey penalty ended.

After setting franchise record for wins (52) and points (112) in one of the biggest turnaround seasons in league history, the Devils are suddenly faced with seeing their season in jeopardy.

“This is what we worked for all year,” forward Timo Meier said. “We’re staying positive, we’re going to move on and obviously look and correct some things. But now it’s go time and go win the next game.”

Devils young superstar Jack Hughes acknowledged it's frustrating not being able to play as well as they did in the regular season.

“They’re a good team, so we’re just not playing to our standard," he said, "and it’s biting us in the (butt) right now.”

NOTES: With the Rangers cruising late, fourth-line center Michael McLeod and New York defenseman Braden Schneider had a big fight with both landing haymakers. ... New York's two wins by four goals each marks the first time they have done that in the opening two games of a series since 1994, the year they won the Stanley Cup. ... The Rangers didn't make any lineup changes. ... The Devils benched D Jonas Siegenthaler and F Jesper Boqvist and dressed veteran D Brendan Smith and F Yegor Sharangovich. Coach Lindy Ruff also changed some of his lines, with the most notable being moving Meier to the top line with Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer.


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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press