|Date of game: 12/27/2014
Recap: NY Rangers vs. New Jersey
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Stepan registered his third career hat trick as the red-hot New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 at Madison Square Garden.
Stepan had a short-handed and power-play goal before sealing the Rangers' season-high eighth straight victory by scoring into an empty net with 55 seconds left in the game.
"He's been playing well. He's a real smart and effective player," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said about Stepan. "I can use him and feel real confident in any situation, whether it's five-on-five against top lines, whether it's killing, whether it's on the power play."
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19-of-20 shots in his 600th career game.
Cory Schneider made 25 saves and Steve Bernier scored for the Devils, who played their first game since head coach Peter DeBoer was fired on Friday.
New Jersey president and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced before Saturday's game that he will go behind the bench with Adam Oates and Scott Stevens. Oates will handle the forwards and Stevens will oversee the defense.
"It was interesting just watching, listening and seeing what was transpiring, and I thought it was extremely positive. The bench was extremely alive," Lamoriello said.
The Devils have dropped three straight and eight of nine overall.
Stepan opened the scoring with 1:46 remaining in the first period. The New York forward had a short-handed breakaway after blocking Travis Zajac's pass at his own blue line and backhanded the puck through Schneider's five-hole.
Stepan was credited with a power-play goal at 7:38 of the second period. Martin St. Louis fired a one-timer from the top of the right circle that went in off Stepan, who was positioned in front of the net.
The Devils got on the board when Eric Gelinas dished to Bernier for a goal at 10:23 of the second. Gelinas nearly tied it on a New Jersey power play before the intermission, but his slap shot went off the post.Game Notes
Lundqvist became the ninth goaltender to appear in 600 career games with one
franchise in NHL history ... Devils forward Scott Gomez played in his 1,000th
career game ... Forward Dainius Zubrus returned to the New Jersey lineup after
missing eight games with leg lacerations.