NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Taylor Hall and rookie Will Butcher scored two goals apiece, and the New Jersey Devils moved to the brink of their first playoff berth since 2012 with a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Rangers on Tuesday night.
New Jersey moved within two points of ending its playoff drought by winning its third straight game and sixth in seven.
Travis Zajac ignited a three-goal first period with a tap-in tally 25 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Keith Kinkaid made 22 saves in a game decided by the power play. Butcher, who had never scored more than once in a game, got both with the Devils enjoying an extra skater, while Hall scored his first on a power play and got his 39th of the season on a second-period penalty shot that easily beat Henrik Lundqvist.
Ryan Spooner and Kevin Hayes scored for the Rangers, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Lundqvist made 39 saves.
This rivalry game was seemingly over in the opening 10:40 when New Jersey scored three times.
Zajac started the roll by carrying the puck from his own end into the Rangers’ zone and dropping a pass to Blake Coleman. The forward flubbed his shot, but the puck deflected off the stick of Chris Kreider and to Zajac who tucked it into an open net.
Hall got his 38th after the Rangers failed to clear a puck in front of stick-less Lundqvist.
Butcher scored from the right point 70 seconds after Rangers defenseman John Gilmour was penalized for shooting the puck into the crowd.
Spooner deflected Jimmy Vesey’s pass into the top of the net with 2:13 left in the period, and he hit the post before the period ended.
Butcher extended the lead to 4-1 just under seven minutes into the second period with a shot from the left point, and Hall beat Lundqvist over his glove after Brady Skjei prevented his shot on a breakaway. It marked the second time this season Hall has had four points in a game, one less than his career high.
Hayes scored on a giveaway in the third period.
NOTES: The Rangers played without forwards Mats Zuccarello (lower body) and Jesper Fast (groin). Both were hurt in the win in Carolina on Saturday. Coach Alain Vigneault said Fast would probably not play again this season … Zuccarello is day to day for the last two games. … Hall has had 27 multipoint games in what has been a career season. He has 93 points, three off the Devils’ single-season record set by Patrik Elias. … Butcher’s 44 points are the most by a Devils’ rookie defenseman in a season. Slava Fetisov had 42 in 1989-90.
Rangers: At Islanders on Thursday night.
Devils: Play regular-season home finale against Toronto on Thursday night.
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