It is a guarantee that the Rangers will be hosting Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs next week at Madison Square Garden, but they still don't know whom they'll be playing. New York never trail on Tuesday in New Jersey after getting goals from Kevin Hayes and Ryan McDonagh in a 47-second span in the first period.
Cam Talbot made 19 saves against 21 shots on the night, while James Sheppard and Carl Hagelin added third-period goals to seal the victory. The Rangers completed the 4-game season series sweep of their division rivals.
Talbot is expected to start the final 2 games of the regular season to rest starter Henrik Lundqvist for the playoffs. Although, the backup goalie could be a key contributor, if needed in the postseason, after posting a 17-5-3 record after Lundqvist went down for 2 months on February 4th with a neck injury.
The Rangers recorded their fifth consecutive win, 4 of which came with their starter in net. They hold the NHL's best record at 52-21-7, good for 111 points. The 52 wins ties a franchise record for most regular season wins, while the point total is 1 off the franchise mark. Both of those records were set in the 1993-1994 season, a season that ended with a Stanley Cup win.
Patrik Elias and Steve Bernier each scored for the Devils, while Corey Schneider had 36 saves in New Jersey's final home game. The Devils were coming off a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Rangers in New York on Saturday, and were outshot 40-21 on Tuesday and had to kill of 7 penalties.
The Rangers will take the NHL's best record back home tomorrow night to host the Ottawa Senators, who is fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils fell to 32-35-13 on the year and will visit the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow.