NEW YORK (AP) Mika Zibanejad and Erik Gustafsson scored in the second period as the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Monday night.

Vincent Trocheck also scored and Jonathan Quick made 20 saves as the first-place Rangers won their second straight after losing three of four. New York is 14-3-2 in its last 19 games and beat New Jersey for the third straight time this season after the Devils won their first-round series in seven games last spring.

“They came out hard. I thought we generated good chances and held them pretty much in check in the second, and I thought Quickie was excellent,'' Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said.

Devils defenseman Simon Nemec spoiled Quick’s shutout bid with 2:34 remaining. Kaapo Kahkonen finished with 23 saves in his New Jersey debut after he was acquired from San Jose last Friday.

The Devils lost for the eighth time in 11 games and for the third time in four games under interim coach Travis Green, who replaced Lindy Ruff on March 4.

“We didn't convert on some really good chances,'' Green said. ”It was a tough loss against a good team."

Quick improved to 14-5-2 this season and with his 389th career victory. The 38-year-old tied Dominik Hasek for 15th in league history and moved within two wins of Ryan Miller for the most triumphs among American-born goalies.

New York was coming off 4-0 home win over St. Louis last Saturday and have won 10 of their last 11 games at Madison Square Garden.

Zibanejad, who hadn’t scored since Feb. 22, backhanded the puck past Kahkonen after a New Jersey giveaway with 7:35 left in the middle period. The goal was Zibanejad’s 20th this season, making the 30-year-old forward the fifth Rangers player with seven consecutive 20-goal seasons. Jean Ratelle accomplished the feat eight times while Rod Gilbert, Vic Hadfield and Andy Bathgate also did it seven straight years.

“We wanted to build off that St. Louis game and I thought we did,'' Zibanejad said.

Gustafsson made it 2-0 with 52 seconds left in the second with his shot from the point as towering forward Matt Rempe screened Kahkonen. It was his sixth goal.

“I tried to find a lane but couldn't,'' Kahkonen said. ”It went in."

With 30 seconds remaining in the second period, Rempe was assessed a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for elbowing Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler.

The 21-year-old Rempe, who has become a fan favorite since his Feb. 18 debut, was challenged by New Jersey’s Kurtis MacDermid but officials kept them separated.

"I wish I could have gotten to him sooner and taught him a lesson,'' said MacDermid, who was given a 10-minute misconduct but stayed in the game.

The 6-foot-7 Rempe also mocked the Devils bench with a hand signal as he was led off the ice. Siegenthaler didn’t return for the third period.

“There's a right way to go about things and a wrong way,'' added the 6-foot-5 MacDermid, who was acquired from Colorado on March 2. “He’s a young kid in this league. He has a lot to learn still. You don’t do things like that when you’re in your first year in league especially ... You've got to learn how to hit properly and not injure players."

Rempe logged 17 penalty minutes and 13 seconds of ice time at New Jersey on Feb. 22 in his third NHL game. He received a match penalty for his hit on the Devils' Nathan Bastain in the first period that night. Siegenthaler and Rempe fought after the hit on Bastain along the boards.

“I think there’s some intent there to injure the player," Green said of Rempe's hit on Siegenthaler in this game. "Call it predatorial or whatever you want to call it. It’s definitely not the first time that it’s happened and second time against us.”

Devils leading scorer Jesper Bratt echoed the sentiments of his coach.

”I don't like the hit," he said. “It's an elbow to the head. Obviously, you don't want to see that.”

Trocheck’s empty-net goal with 1:13 remaining, his 24th, completed the scoring as the Rangers improved to 23-8-0 at home.


Devils: At Dallas on Thursday night to continue a four-game trip.

Rangers: At Carolina on Tuesday night.



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