for this game

Rangers clinch playoff spot with win over Devils

Mar 20, 2012 - 3:36 AM
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Brandon Dubinsky and Derek Stepan posted a goal and an assist apiece to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils in an Atlantic Division battle.

The win clinched a playoff berth for the Rangers as the team became just the second in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference to earn a spot in the postseason. The previous two seasons had seen the Rangers' playoff fate hinge on the final day of the season.

"It's definitely a foreign feeling not coming down to the last day," said Dubinsky. "This was is a lot easier on everyone here."

Dan Girardi and Mats Zuccarello each scored a goal for the Rangers, who had dropped five of their last seven coming in. Henrik Lundqvist posted 20 saves in the win.

This was a much-needed win for the Rangers as they have the Penguins and Flyers hot on their tails.

In a very crowded Atlantic Division, the Rangers now have 97 points and hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh and five-point lead over Philadelphia. The Rangers lead Boston by 10 points for the top overall spot in the Eastern Conference.

Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias each posted a goal for the Devils, who have lost three of their last four. Martin Brodeur gave up all four goals on 27 shots in the loss.

"It's always tough playing here, especially with both teams needing a win," said New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer. "We worked pretty hard there and we're in it, but just couldn't get that bounce that you need sometimes."

New Jersey sits in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference with 87 points, three more than idle Ottawa.

New York needed just 71 seconds to take the lead on Dubinsky's eighth of the year. Stepan had the puck down the right wing and tried to pass it, but it rolled off his stick. He was able to reach out, though, and pass it to the slot where Dubinsky shot it low past Brodeur.

The score stayed that way until 33 seconds into the second period when Girardi gathered the puck in the high slot, skated over to the top of the right circle and fired a shot that hit off the right pad of Brodeur and went in.

The Devils made it a one-goal game at the 5:03 mark of the second when Patrik Elias' shot from a sharp angle at the left side hit off the right shoulder of Lundqvist and went in.

New York got the goal back exactly 2 1/2 minutes later, on the power play. Brad Richards fired a shot from the right point that Ryan Callahan got a stick on with Zuccarello finishing the play in front for his second of the year.

However, the Devils again scored to make it a one-goal game when Marek Zidlicky sent a pass from the right boards over to the top of the left circle where Sykora let fly with a wrister for his 17th of the year.

New Jersey was unable to net the equalizer in the third period and the Rangers sealed the win with 1:10 to play shortly after a power play expired when Dubinsky fired a shot on net from the high slot that Stepan redirected out of the air.

Game Notes

New York hosts Detroit on Wednesday...The Devils play in Ottawa on Tuesday...This was the final game of the season between these two teams. Each club won twice, but the Rangers gained seven points due to one shootout loss...New York went 1-for-3 on the power play while New Jersey was 0-for-3.