Rangers rookie Chris Kreider and defenseman Dan Girardi both had a goal and an assist in the third period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots for his fifth career playoff shutout, as weary New York opened the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the well-rested New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
Playing just two days after eliminating Washington in a stirring 2-1 Game 7 victory, the top-seeded Rangers hit their home ice again and won their third straight Game 1 of these playoffs. The Devils had been off for five days since they knocked out the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
Game 2 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Hunter leaves Capitals
Dale Hunter is finished as coach of the Washington Capitals after less than one full season, telling the team he wants to return to his family in Canada. "It was the right thing to do," Hunter said.
He told general manager George McPhee of the decision Monday, two days after the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs by the Rangers in Game 7.
Todd Richards is losing the word interim from his job title with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Richards became the Blue Jackets' interim coach in January when Scott Arniel was fired.
The team said he agreed to a two-year contract after the Jackets' record improved under the 45-year-old former Minnesota Wild coach.
Kings take series lead
The Los Angeles Kings certainly weren't bothered by a long layoff. The Phoenix Coyotes sure seemed to be.
Dwight King scored his second goal of the game into an empty net and the Kings dominated from the start to open the Western Conference finals with a 4-2 victory over the host Coyotes on Sunday night to remain unbeaten on the road in the playoffs.
"We had that long break and everyone was so anxious to get started, and everyone bursted out all their energy we had saved up," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Everyone was flying."
With a week off after sweeping St. Louis in the second round, the Kings were far from rusty, overwhelming the Coyotes early to set up Anze Kopitar's goal four minutes into the game.
Phoenix rallied to tie twice, the first time on a shot by Derek Morris that surprised Kings goalie Jonathan Quick from the red line, but the Kings kept coming.
Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist, King had his first career two-goal game, and Los Angeles outshot Phoenix, 48-27, to win its sixth straight road playoff victory, one short of the NHL record for a single postseason.
Game 2 will be Tuesday night in the desert.
- Associated Press