In his postseason debut with his new team, Scott Gomez showed the New York Rangers how he can impact a playoff game. He also reminded the New Jersey Devils of they playmaker they now lack.
Gomez will try to help give the Rangers a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Devils when the teams meet Friday night at the Prudential Center.
Gomez, who had six of his team-high 54 assists in eight regular-season games against New Jersey, recorded the primary assist on each of New York's first three goals en route to an easy 4-1 victory in Game 1 on Wednesday.
"This was an important win, especially starting on the road, and it's exciting to get the first one out of the way, but it's still a long series and it will start all over again (on Friday)," Gomez told the Rangers' official Web site.
Brendan Shanahan - another former Devil - opened the scoring early in the second period, and Ryan Callahan and Sean Avery added third-period goals before Nigel Dawes' empty-netter. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 shots for the Rangers, who had lost 11 of 12 series openers, starting with the 1994 conference finals against New Jersey.
Gomez, a first-round pick by the Devils in 1998, said revenge wasn't a factor.
"It's the playoffs. It doesn't matter who you play," he said. "It could have been any team. ... I've got a lot of friends over there, but the way you're raised over there, it doesn't matter who's in the way. There were no extra emotions."
Gomez was the Devils' leading scorer in each of their last three playoff appearances, including 2006-07, when he had 14 points in 11 games as New Jersey reached the East semifinals before falling to Ottawa.
The Rangers' three-goal third in Wednesday's opener continued a season-long trend against the Devils. New York outscored New Jersey 5-1 in the third period during the teams' eight-game season series, won 7-0-1 by the Rangers.
"We know we are facing a really good team, but we really believe in each other and the way we are playing," Lundqvist said. "This was a good win. But it's only one win. We have a long way to go here."
Lundqvist snapped a three-start road losing streak and improved to 3-4 with a 2.84 goals-against average in seven career road playoff games.
New Jersey made the postseason despite scoring only 206 goals this season - fewest among East playoff teams - and those shortcomings on offense were evident again in Game 1. The Devils' only goal came from Paul Martin on a power play in the second period before the Rangers dominated the final 20 minutes.
Martin Brodeur made 24 saves for the Devils, who lost the home-ice advantage they earned by beating the Rangers in a shootout during the regular-season finale Sunday.
"Other than a couple of mistakes, we played a pretty good hockey game tonight," coach Brent Sutter told the Devils' official Web site. "We had some quality scoring chances, hit some posts, hit the crossbar. At the end of the day, you still lose the game. That's the bottom line and you're down one now."
Brodeur has given up six goals while losing each of his last two home playoff starts. He hasn't lost three straight at home in the postseason since dropping two to the Rangers in the 1997 semifinals and one to Ottawa in the 1998 quarters.
Brodeur is 53-32 with a 1.80 GAA and 14 shutouts in the playoffs at home.
Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday night in New York. The Rangers were 25-13-3 at Madison Square Garden this season, while New Jersey was 21-15-5 on the road.