NEW YORK (AP) — The New Jersey Devils kept their focus when they were outplayed in the first period and bounced back nicely one night after their first loss of the season.
Drew Stafford scored early in the third period, backup goalie Keith Kinkaid stopped 29 shots in his season debut and the Devils beat the New York Rangers 3-2 on Saturday.
“We all kind of lifted each other up and we were able to get back to competing and working, it was as simple as that,” Stafford said. “We got outworked in the first and Keith bailed us out, so that was pretty much the difference.”
Adam Henrique and Miles Wood scored in the second period as New Jersey improved to 4-1-0 — a nice start for a team that finished last in the Eastern Conference at 28-40-14 last season.
“I think we just had to re-evaluate what kind of team we were and what we were doing out there,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We need to work hard, get on the forecheck and stick to detail. We just got away from that a little bit. We came back and worked hard throughout the rest of the game.”
Rick Nash and Kevin Shattenkirk scored for the Rangers, and backup Ondrej Pavelec had 16 saves in his first start since signing with New York in the offseason. The Rangers dropped to 1-5-0 for the first time since 1980.
“We have no one to blame but ourselves, the guys in this room here,” New York captain Ryan McDonagh said. “We’re not performing. We’re not playing the way we need to play.”
With the Devils trailing 1-0, Henrique tied the score with about 9 1/2 minutes remaining in the second as he took a backhand pass from Brian Gibbons in front and snapped it past Pavelec for his second of the season.
Wood put the Devils ahead with 3:19 remaining in the period as he deflected a slap shot by Ben Lovejoy past Pavelec for his third.
For the period, New Jersey had a 12-3 advantage on shots, reversing a trend from the first period when the Devils were outshot 14-3.
Stafford made it 3-1 with a power-play goal a minute into the third, taking a pass from Will Butcher in the right circle and skating in on Pavelec and putting a backhander in for his first of the season. It gave Butcher his second assist of the night and eighth in five games this season.
“My game is just moving puck and when I’m doing that and moving my feet, trying to think of the play before it happens, it’s going well for me,” said Butcher, who signed with the Devils after winning the Hobey Baker Award last season as the top college player.
McDonagh’s wrist shot that was stopped by Kinkaid at 6:55 of the third was the Rangers’ first shot on goal of the period.
With Pavelec pulled for an extra skater, Shattenkirk pulled the Rangers, who had the last 14 shots on goal in the game, pulled within one with 57 seconds remaining.
“In the second period we had too many costly turnovers,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. “We started the third period with a couple of unwarranted penalties on our part and tried to battle back but came up short.”
Both goalies made nice saves early in the second period to keep the game scoreless. Pavelec made a right pad save on a backhand by Wood, and Kinkaid stopped a tip-in attempt by Kevin Hayes with his left arm after losing his stick seconds earlier.
Nash got the Rangers on the scoreboard at 5:31 of the middle period. David Desharnais brought the puck around the net and send a pass across the front to Nash, who wristed it in from the left side for his first of the season.
The Devils dominated play after that, holding the Rangers to just one shot on goal the rest of the period — a long wrist shot by Brady Skjei from near center ice about six minutes after Nash’s goal.
NOTES: Nash now has nine goals and 10 points in his last 15 games against the Devils. … Fast made his season debut for the Rangers after recovering from hip surgery in early June. … New York completed the second of 11 back-to-backs this season. The Rangers are 0-2-0 in the first games and 1-1-0 in the back end at home. … The teams play three more times this season: at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9, and at New Jersey on Dec. 21 and April 3. … Devils LW Jesper Bratt has been held without a point in two straight games after having three goals and three assists in the first three games.
Devils: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host two-time defending champion Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
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