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Hynes gets first win as coach, Devils defeat Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The puck that went from forward Lee Stempniak's stick into the back of the net on Sunday made a detour before getting into the hands of New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes, a souvenir for his first NHL coaching victory.

Stempniak's goal off a 2-on-1 rush with forward Adam Henrique at 3:07 of overtime gave New Jersey a 2-1 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It was the first win of the season for the Devils (1-3-1).

The puck, however, had to be retrieved out of the stands by Devils captain Andy Greene. He had to trade a different puck with the female fan who wound up with the game-winning puck, a result of catching it after it was shot over the glass in frustration by Rangers center Derek Stepan.

The Devils presented the puck to Hynes in the dressing room.

"It's been, what, five games now to get the first win, so really just happy for him," Stempniak said. "He deserves it, and for our group too it's really important."

The Devils were coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Friday. They lost their first three games in regulation by a combined score of 11-5.

"It feels great," Hynes said. "Really just happy for the team. We have gone through a lot of changes and I thought we were up and down in some of our first games, but I really credit the players' attitude every day. They've worked to get better. We feel we continue to do that. It's just gratifying that for our guys we were able to get a win for the hard work."

The Devils were slow and the Rangers were fast to start the game. New York also was playing with a lead after Stepan scored his third goal of the season at 3:12 of the first period.

But Stempniak credited the decision by forward Kyle Palmieri at 19:13 of the first period to drop the gloves and fight Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein at center ice for getting the Devils out of their slumber. It was Palmieri's fourth career NHL fight and first since Jan. 5, 2014.

"We came out in the second and had a much better start," Stempniak said.

Henrique tied the game at 1:52 of the second period with his third goal of the season, a result of collapsing on his own rebound and putting it past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

New Jersey didn't get a shot on goal during a 5-on-3 for 96 seconds early in the third period, but it killed off back to back penalties later in the period to allow for overtime.

Hynes said the penalty kills, which stretched from 10:58 to 15:38 of the third period, with a 40-second gap in between, were "probably the game changer."

The Rangers had four shots on goals during the two man advantages, but goalie Cory Schneider stopped all of them.

Schneider finished with 26 saves, building on his 33-save performance in the loss Friday. He has allowed five goals on 91 shots (.945 save percentage) in three starts this season.

"I think when you're where we are, we haven't won yet, in a building against our rivals, and we give up an early goal, things just aren't going our way, it would have been pretty easy to just sort of say, 'woe is me' and fall into what has happened," Schneider said. "But we made adjustments, worked harder, and did what we had to do to get two points. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was good to beat these guys in this building."

The Rangers (3-2-1) are winless in three straight after opening the season with three consecutive victories. They've scored two goals in the past three games after scoring 12 in the first three.

"We've got by my estimation one player that's on top of his game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said, "and that's Henrik Lundqvist."

Lundqvist, who made 22 saves, said he felt the Rangers lacked energy. Vigneault blamed execution for the Rangers problems, but said he didn't have an answer for why the overall performance of late has been lacking.

The Rangers play the Sharks on Monday at the Garden.

"If I had the answer I would have fixed it by now," Vigneault said. "I'm sure the players have their theory. The good thing is we've got an opportunity [Monday] to try and put a 60-minute game together."


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