NHL

Rangers coach says Devils 'played their best game of the series' to claim 3-2 lead

By Sports Desk April 27, 2023

New York Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant had no complaints with his side's effort in their 4-0 Game 5 loss to the New Jersey Devils who he said "played their best game of the series".

The Devils have flipped the script in their Stanley Cup first-round series after trailing 2-0 following back-to-back losses in Newark, taking a 3-2 lead with Thursday's triumph at Prudential Center.

Gallant blasted his side after their 3-1 home loss in Game 4 where they surrendered their advantage in the series, but he conceded the Devils were just too good on Thursday led by Erik Haula with two goals and an assist.

"I got no problem with their effort tonight. They competed," Gallant told reporters.

"Jersey played a hell of a game. You've got to give them a lot of credit. They played their best game in the series I thought tonight."

The defeat leaves the Rangers in danger of elimination on their home ice in Game 6. The Rangers rallied back from a 3-1 first-round series deficit last year against the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as when trailing 3-2 in the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes offering Gallant hope.

"The effort is there, we've been in this position before," he said. "We'll see what we can do, go back home on Saturday and rally the troops and get it going."

Rangers winger Chris Kreider also reflected on last year's playoffs after the game, demanding a response from his team.

"We've had a terrific fan base all year. We let them down, we let ourselves down at home," he said. "So it's up to us to show up and play the way we want to play from puck drop.

"All the cliches and euphemisms I throw at you guys all year, it's time to step up and do those things, right? It's time to play for a full 60 minutes. It's time to win a hockey game."

Beyond Haula's outstanding display, Devils goaltender Akira Schmid stopped 23 shots and Dawson Mercer had a goal and an assist. New Jersey captain Nico Hischier praised their approach.

"Tonight we did a lot of good things and that's exactly how we got to play," Hischier said.

"We knew if we use our speed, that's our strength. That's what makes us a dangerous team — if we play with our speed."

Game 6 is on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

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