Former New Jersey draft pick Petr Sykora - who shined here as a member of the AHL's Albany River Rats in the mid-1990s - beat Henrik Lundqvist at 11:34 of the first period on a wrister from the right circle to put the Devils ahead 1-0.
The 34-year-old Sykora, back at center as he attempts to make the club out of camp, was assisted by Adam Larsson and Eric Boulton.
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid, out of nearby Union College, made the start and recorded 10 saves for New Jersey before being lifted. Martin Brodeur, nursing a hamstring injury, did not dress.
Lundqvist had 18 saves in 31:13 of ice time.
The Devils outshot New York 42-21 in new coach Peter DeBoer's debut.
A record crowd of 9,420 took in the first NHL game held in the current home of the AHL's Albany Devils in nine years.