NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers rivalry started off this season the same way it ended last year: with a bang from Devils’ center Adam Henrique.
After scoring the overtime goal in game six of the Eastern Conference Final last May, Henrique opened the scoring in the first period of the first meeting between the Devils (5-1-3) and Rangers (4-5) this season.
The Devils topped the Rangers, 3-1, at Prudential Center.
Henrique took a pass from Patrik Elias five minutes into the first period and ripped a shot passed Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist — quite a different goal than his overtime tap-in last spring, but it counts the same — to give the Devils the early lead.
Forward David Clarkson scored his first of two goals in the final minute of the first period, and added a power play goal in the early stages of the third period to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.
And, that was all Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur would need.
Brodeur, who has said previously that he loves playing the Rangers, was magnificent, making stop after stop over the final two periods. His only blemish was allowing Rangers’ forward Chris Kreider to score his first goal of the season midway through the third period to draw New York within two goals at 3-1.
But, that literally was all he would give the Rangers, who went 0-5 on the power play. Marc Staal had a pair of good scoring opportunities — one in the first period, and one in the third period — but Brodeur turned them both away.
Rick Nash had a couple good scoring chances in the first period, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Late in the third period, Nash found Rangers’ forward Carl Hagelin in an odd-man rush, but Hagelin’s shot was grabbed out of the air by Brodeur’s glove.
Brodeur finished with 24 saves for the Devils, who have now won back-to-back games after dropping four straight.
Clarkson made a bid for his first career hat trick, but he couldn’t find the puck with the Rangers’ net empty over the final two minutes of the game.
New Jersey remained a point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat the New York Islanders, 4-2.
Lundqvist, who was highly regarded as the best goalie in the league last season, stopped 19 of the 22 shots he faced.
The Devils will be back at Prudential Center on Thursday night, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning as they look to get their third straight win and move back into first place in the Atlantic Division.