NEW YORK (AP) — The New Jersey Devils are suddenly brimming with confidence. Getting two close wins on the road after opening their playoff series with a pair of lopsided losses at home will do that.
Jonas Siegenthaler scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, Akira Schmid had 22 saves in another shutdown start and the Devils beat the New York Rangers 3-1 Monday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece.
Jack Hughes and Ondrej Palat also scored for New Jersey.
“That was a massive win for us,” Hughes said. “That was a really good 60-minute game out of us, too. We’re really happy with that. A lot of resiliency.”
The Rangers won the first two games by identical 5-1 margins before the Devils pulled out a 2-1 win in overtime on Saturday night.
“They took two in our building so we wanted to come in here and even the series up,” Hughes said of a Devils team that was third in the NHL with 28 road wins during the season, behind only Boston (31) and Colorado (29). “We’ve been a really good road team all year. We’re going to bring that same effort and come back and have a really good Game 5 at home.”
Vincent Trocheck scored for the Rangers, and Igor Shesterkin stopped 20 shots. New York has totaled just two goals in the last two games after scoring five each in the first two.
“Very disappointing,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Not even close to good enough. … It was real disappointing to watch that.”
Game 5 is at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday night, with Game 6 back at MSG on Saturday night. Game 7, if necessary, will be next Monday night on the Devils’ home ice.
“We have to get back and play the way we play, trust ourselves,” the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad said. “It’s a best of three now.”
Schmid, making his second straight start after Vitek Vanecek allowed nine goals on 52 shots in the first two games, was sensational again for the Devils. The 22-year-old has given up just two goals on 58 shots the last two games.
“We wanted to take away sticks and block shots,” Schmid said. “An amazing job these last two games. … For sure, this has opened my eyes to what I have to work on at this level.”
The youngster had 10 saves in the first period, six in the second and six in the third of this one.
Trocheck tied the score at 1 at 1:42 of the third as he scored in front off a rebound of Chris Kreider’s backhand attempt off a pass from Patrick Kane. It was Trocheck’s first of the series and ninth career playoff goal.
Siegenthaler regained the lead for New Jersey at 8:22 as he got a cross-ice pass from Nico Hischier and fired a shot from the left circle that went under Shesterkin’s glove and in off the right post.
“We played a strong defensive game,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We battled hard in all three zones. Great job by Siegenthaler jumping up in a four-man attack. He found a hole.”
Less than 30 seconds later, Hischier slid into the Rangers’ goalie on a driving attempt. Both players were down briefly before getting up.
The Rangers pulled Shesterkin for an extra skater with 2 minutes remaining, but Palat sealed the Devils’ win with an empty-netter with 26 seconds remaining.
“Up and down the line, we talked about what we need to do to beat the Rangers,” veteran defenseman Erik Haula said. “We know we are a good team. If we play the way we can, we’re dangerous.”
Vladimir Tarasenko got free down the left side and fired a shot that Schmid turned aside with a right pad save to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard about eight minutes into the second period.
Haula had a short-handed breakaway with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the middle period, but his attempt was wide.
Shesterkin tried to spark the Rangers’ stagnant offense with a long lead pass to Kaapo Kakko up the right side. Kakko found Alexis Lafrenière streaking up the middle toward the net, and Lafrenière spun around and sent a shot wide left of Schmid with about four minutes left in the second.
Schmid made a pair of nice saves 2 1/2 minutes into the game, first on a shot by Kakko and then a tip by Lafrenière. Hughes then got the puck on a breakaway, slowly skated in on Shesterkin and went forehand-backhand-forehand before sliding the puck inside the left post at 2:50. It was his third goal of the series.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at http://www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
AP NHL Playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.