Brandon Dubinsky scored shortly after a fight-filled opening faceoff, and the New York Rangers became the first Eastern Conference team to earn a playoff spot by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Monday night.
Three fights broke out at the outset and that seemed to jump-start the Rangers, who had lost two straight and five of seven as their once commanding lead in the East dwindled to almost nothing.
Defenseman Dan Girardi scored in the first minute of the second period, and Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan added goals for the Rangers, who lead the Pittsburgh Penguins by three points. New York (45-20-7) has 10 games remaining. Pittsburgh has 11 to play, including one against the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 shots and got the Rangers back on track after home losses to Colorado and Pittsburgh. New York, which has two games remaining on a seven-game homestand, went 3-2-1 against New Jersey in the season series.
The Rangers have often struggled until the final days to get...