New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Lundqvist's 35 saves and three first-period goals propelled the New York Rangers to a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.
Rick Nash's career-best 42nd goal of the season was followed by tallies from Keith Yandle and Dominic Moore during the opening session, helping the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers reach the 50-win mark for only the fourth time in franchise history with the lopsided result.
Moore tacked on another goal in the third period, while Nash and Yandle added assists in the rout. Derek Stepan also finished with a goal and an assist.
Making his fourth start since missing nearly two months with a neck injury, Lundqvist carried a shutout bid that was spoiled by Tuomo Ruutu with 3:30 remaining.
In contrast, New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider was pulled after only 12-plus minutes when giving up three goals on just six shots.
Keith Kincaid turned aside 23-of-26 chances relieving Schneider in the Devils' seventh loss in eight games.
"There's no doubt that we caught (Schneider) on a rough night," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
The Rangers needed just over five minutes to jump in front, as Mats Zuccarello skated into the New Jersey zone during a rush and sent a puck towards the net that Nash redirected home from in close. The goal came just moments after Lundqvist denied Travis Zajac on the doorstep on a good Devils' chance.
Yandle made it 2-0 with the trade-deadline acquisition's first goal as a Ranger, a well-placed wrister with 8:01 left in the first period that was set up when Chris Kreider bumped New Jersey's Reid Boucher off the puck following a faceoff.
A mere 25 seconds later, Moore sent Schneider to an early exit by tipping a feed from Tanner Glass over the goaltender's shoulder.
"I just think we gave them whatever opportunities we gave them and they took advantage of it and that's the way the whole night went," said Devils interim coach and general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Lundqvist finished with 13 first-period saves and made 12 more in the second, including a sliding stop on Patrik Elias early in the frame.
Kincaid was flawless as well until being beaten through the legs by Stepan on a short-handed breakaway -- created by a crisp outlet pass from Nash -- with just 2.7 seconds remaining on the second-period clock.
Derick Brassard extended the lead to 5-0 when his attempted centering pass snuck in between Kincaid's arm and the left post 1:55 into the third. Moore got his second of the night with eight minutes to go on a deflection of Ryan McDonagh's blast from the point.
Ruutu was able to get New Jersey on the board in the 57th minute, landing a wrist shot through heavy traffic in front of the New York net.
Nash potted 41 goals with Columbus in 2003-04, his second season in the NHL ... The Rangers have now won five straight meetings with New Jersey, their longest win streak in the series since ripping off seven in a row from Oct. 25, 2007-March 27, 2008 ... Devils forward Stefan Matteau played his first career regular-season game at Madison Square Garden, where his father, Stephane, scored one of the most memorable goals in Rangers' history against New Jersey during double overtime in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals ... The two rivals will face off again in Newark on Tuesday.