The fans at the Prudential Center can boo Scott Gomez all they want.
Gomez recorded assists on the first three Ranger goals as New York defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 to give them a 1-0 advantage in their opening-round playoff series.
Brendan Shanahan, who scored his first career playoff goal 20 years ago as a Devil, netted the first goal of the game, slapping one past a screened Martin Brodeur just as a power play expired.
Gomez was the one doing the screening, and may have confused Brodeur in making an attempt to deflect the puck.
While these two veteran stars did an impressive job filling up the stat sheet, the younger generation of Rangers was just as pivotal in the win.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist led the way, saving 26 of 27 shots, out-dueling the legendary Brodeur. Only Paul Martin’s power-play goal was able to sneak past King Henrik.
Defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Dan Girardi were a plus-4 and plus-3 respectively. Girardi gave his body for the win, recording five hits and three blocked shots.
Young forwards Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes were just as instrumental, with Callahan’s shorthanded goal giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead early in the third period.
Shanahan rewarded Dawes for his hardworking night, allowing him to score an empty net goal at the end of the game, giving Nigel a plus-4 for the game.
The Rangers fed off of the energy of their young players and the leadership of their veterans to hold off a steady, but seemingly less enthused Devil squad.
Game two will take place Friday night at the Prudential Center. This will be a must-win contest for the Devils as the Rangers have already taken the home ice advantage from New Jersey’s black and red–clad squad.