Haula leads Devils past Rangers 4-0 for 3-2 series lead
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Erik Haula had two goals and an assist, Akira Schmid stopped 23 shots, and the New Jersey Devils beat the New York Rangers 4-0 Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.
Dawson Mercer had a goal and an assist, and Ondrej Palat also scored to help New Jersey move one win away from advancing with their third straight win after losing the first two games at home. It was the first win by a home team in the series.
Schmid had eight saves in the first period, 13 in the second and two in the third for his first career postseason shutout while making his third straight start. He has stopped 80 of 82 shots he's faced after Vitek Vanecek gave up nine goals on 52 shots in the first two games.
Igor Shesterkin finished with 39 saves for the Rangers, who have been outscored 9-2 over the last three games after a pair of 5-1 wins to open the series.
Game 6 is Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Leading by three after two periods, the Devils controlled play in the third with a dominant 18-2 advantage on shots on goal over the final 20 minutes.
The Rangers nearly got on the scoreboard but Vincent Trocheck's poke attempt went off the left post and slid across the goal line. Schmid and Haula both punched the puck to the side and away from the goal with 6:25 left.
Haula had an empty-netter with 5:12 to go to cap the scoring.
Just as a penalty on the Rangers' Patrick Kane was about to expire early in the second period, Haula knocked in the rebound of a shot by Mercer in front through Shesterkin's pads at 3:27 for his second of the series to push the Devils' lead to 2-0.
Mercer added to New Jersey's lead on a short-handed 2-on-1 rush as he got a cross-ice pass from Haula and fired a shot over Shesterkin's right shoulder for his first career postseason goal with 6:28 left in the middle period.
Minutes later, Devils fans serenaded Shesterkin with derisive chants of “I-gor! I-gor!” and repeated it several times through the game.
Shesterkin made a sprawling save on a backhand try from Timo Meier with 3:19 left in the second to keep the Rangers' deficit at 3-0.
Kaapo Kakko had a chance to get the Rangers on the board after an errant clearing pass by Schmid, but his attempt missed wide with just under two minutes remaining in the period. Schmid then stopped a long slap shot by Jacob Trouba a minute later to preserve the shutout.
Palat got the Devils on the scoreboard just 39 seconds into the game. Following a faceoff in the right circle, the puck rebounded off Shesterkin and came out to the left circle, where Palat fired a shot that deflected off the stick of Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and over Shesterkin's glove. It was his second goal of the series and his 50th career postseason goal.
Panarin had a shot on a 3-on-1 break but Schmid used his glove to knock down the shot from the left circle 9:10 into the first period. Schmid also stopped Vladimir Tarasenko's shot from the left circle with 7:15 left in the period, and had a glove save on Ryan Lindgren's attempt in front with just under two minutes remaining.
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Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press