MADISON SQUARE GARDEN — The Rangers drew first blood in their playoff series with the New Jersey Devils Monday night, using another exceptional effort from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to shut out their cross-river rivals.
The Blueshirts scored all their goals in the third period to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals 3-0, sending fans into a frenzy at the Garden.
"The Rangers power play finally came through for us tonight, and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding,” said diehard Rangers fan Fred Ewig, 32, of New Jersey, after leaving the game victorious.
New York broke the teams' 0-0 deadlock less than a minute into the third period off a long-range slap shot from defenseman Dan Girardi, and then added an insurance goal later in the period from rookie Chris Kreider.
Center Artem Anisimov sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final two minutes, but it was Lundqvist’s 21 saves that stole the show.
“As a goalie you always have to step up when your team needs you, not when you feel good and have your moments," Lundqvist told reporters after the game, according to NHL.com.
"A lot of times, it's when the team's struggling that you have to step up.”
Devils fans took their loss in stride after the game.
"I admit the Rangers were the best in the third period,” said New Jersey fan Josh Orlinsky, 32. “But, hey, it's only game one out of seven, so let's see what happens."
The Hudson River rivals face off in Game 2 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden at 8 p.m.