NEW YORK – When it comes to timely goals against the Rangers, Adam Henrique just finds a way.
His tally on Monday night wasn't quite as big as the one that eliminated the rival Blueshirts from the 2012 Eastern Conference, but he'll take it.
Henrique struck for the go-ahead goal with 51.7 seconds left in regulation at Madison Square Garden, breaking a 4-4 tie and sending the Devils to a 5-4 win in their exhibition opener. He also registered an assist as his line with Michael Ryder (2g-1a) and Reid Boucher (1g-1a) combined for four goals and three helpers.
Eric Gelinas' 5-on-3 power-play goal gave the Devils a 4-2 lead midway through the third. Chris Kreider scored with five minutes to go for the Rangers, who tied the game at 4 on Jesper Fast's strike with 2:30 remaining.
Henrique then helped New Jersey avoid overtime with a shot through Cam Talbot from the high slot.
Scott Clemmensen and Keith Kinkaid split the Devils' goaltending duties. Clemmensen stopped eight of 10 shots in 29:29, while Kinkaid posted 12 saves on 14 shots in 30:31. Henrik Lundqvist (11 saves on 13 shots) split with Talbot (16 saves on 19 shots).
Boucher was credited with his first of the preseason in the opening minute to get things off to a quick start. What should have been Henrique's goal – Boucher's centering feed was redirected by Henrique in front of Lundqvist – gave the Devils a 1-0 lead 59 seconds into the game.
Ryder doubled the Devils’ advantage with a net-front redirection of Gelinas’ shot from the left point at 3:29.
The Rangers got on the board when Carl Hagelin’s shot from the bottom of the left circle found an opening through Clemmensen at 4:43. After Hagelin got around Mike Komisarek, Clemmensen got a piece of it with his glove, but not enough to keep it out of the net.
Danny Kristo's hooking penalty at 6:07 sent the Devils to their first power play of the night, though they would fail to cash in. They opened the man advantage with Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - Martin Havlat, with tryout Tomas Kaberle and prospect Damon Severson on the back end.
The second unit was Boucher-Henrique-Ryder with Gelinas and Adam Larsson.
Severson was in the box for interfering with Tanner Glass when the Rangers evened the score at 2. JT Miller found Ryan Malone at the bottom of the right circle for a one-timer at 9:42.
Dan Boyle shoved Ruslan Fedotenko from behind at 18:05 and was called for interference, setting up New Jersey’s second man advantage. Five seconds carried over to the middle frame.
An uncovered Elias nearly made it a 3-2 game early in the second, when Lundqvist gloved his redirection of a point shot by Komisarek.
Gelinas was called for hooking Malone at 3:04, but the Devils’ PK didn’t surrender a shot on the ensuing kill.
Both teams changed goalies at the 9:29 mark of the second.
The Devils went to their third power play of the game when Kevin Hayes held up Dan Kelly in the offensive zone at 11:22. Kinkaid had to come up with a big save on a speeding Marty St. Louis just after the penalty expired, getting across to deny a blast from the bottom of the left circle at 13:43.
Ryder's second of the game restored the Devils' lead, 3-2. He drove to the front of the net for a backhand redirection of a Boucher pass from the right circle at 16:14.
Contact with Kinkaid sent Kreider to the box at 17:43 for New Jersey's fourth power play of the contest. The advantage was wiped out 20 seconds later when Elias was whistled for roughing in the Rangers' crease.
After outshooting the Rangers, 13-4, in the second, the Devils took a 3-2 lead into the third. Through 40 minutes, the Devils' PP was 0-for-4 with four shots in 6:21.
A crisp three-way passing play between Elias, Zubrus and Havlat led to a Havlat backhand scoring chance and drew a Kreider hooking call at 3:21. But the remaining 51 seconds of the advantage were wiped out when Henrique took out Ryan Bourque near center ice and was called for interference at 4:30.
Jordin Tootoo's minor for an illegal check to the head on Michael Kostka handed the Rangers their fifth power play at 7:09. New York's Matt Hunwick crept to the left circle and ripped a shot off the left post as the penalty expired.
Matthew Lombardi went off for tripping at 9:49, giving New Jersey its sixth power-play opportunity. It became a 24-second 5-on-3 after Hagelin slashed Zubrus at 11:25. This time, the Devils broke through with Elias feeding Gelinas for a rocket from the top of the right circle at 11:39.
Gelinas' first of the preseason from Elias and Havlat put the visitors back on top by a pair, 4-2.
Kreider struck shortside on Kinkaid from the left circle with 5:00 to go in the third, trimming the New Jersey lead to 4-3. It was 4-4 after an uncovered Fast collected a Glass pass in the slot and put it in off the right post with 2:30 to go in the third.
Kinkaid protected the tie with a big left pad save on Kristo at the top of the crease with 2:10 to go.
Kreider went down easy to draw an interference call on Jacob Josefson with 6.1 seconds left, but the Devils held on for the victory.
New Jersey finished 1-for-7 with the man advantage and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Martin Havlat - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Reid Boucher - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Stefan Matteau - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo
Ruslan Fedotenko - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen
Eric Gelinas - Adam Larsson
Tomas Kaberle - Damon Severson
Dan Kelly - Mike Komisarek