EditorsNote: updates second graf with late results
Taylor Hall scored two goals, including one on a penalty shot, and had two assists, and Will Butcher also scored twice as the New Jersey Devils moved a step closer to clinching a Stanley Cup playoff berth with a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night in Newark, N.J.
Trevor Zajac added a goal and assist for New Jersey, which reduced its magic number to two points in the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Devils have 95 points, one behind both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the race for the last two automatic postseason berths from the Metropolitan Division. The Philadelphia Flyers are one point behind New Jersey.
Keith Kinkaid made 22 saves as the Devils improved to 6-0-1 in their past seven games.
Hall, who has six goals in the past four games, became the fourth player in Devils franchise history to reach the 90-point mark in a season and the first since Zach Parise had 94 points in 2008-09. Hall has 17 points, including eight goals, over the past nine games and now has 93 points for the season.
Ryan Spooner and Kevin Hayes scored for New York, which is sputtering to the finish line, falling to 2-5-2 in its past nine games. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 39 saves.
New Jersey jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10:40. Zajac started the scoring after 25 seconds, scooping up a Blake Coleman shot at the left side of the net and then hooking in the rebound just inside the left post as he skated by. It was his 12th goal of the season.
Hall followed with a power-play goal three minutes later, intercepting Neal Pionk’s clearing pass near the dot in the left circle and then roofing a wrist shot into the left corner of the net.
Butcher made it 3-0 with a power-play goal, one-timing a pass from Kyle Palmieri from the top of the right circle past a screen by Patrick Maroon. The puck went in off the far post.
Spooner put the Rangers on the board late in the first period when he redirected a Jimmy Vesey pass over Kinkaid’s left shoulder for his 13th goal of the season.
The Devils extended the lead to 5-1 with two second-period goals. The first came on Butcher’s second power-play goal of the game off a pass from Hall, and the second was Hall’s penalty shot. Hall, awarded the one-on-one chance when he was hooked by Brady Skjei on a breakaway, fired a wrist shot from the top of slot over Lundqvist’s glove for his 39th goal of the season.
Hayes concluded the scoring with his 24th goal of the season with 5:34 remaining.
—Field Level Media