The Rangers line of Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, and Carl Hagelin (left to right in photos) came out on fire were relentless in pressuring the New Jersey Devils from the opening face-off. The combined to score two first period goals and never let up, winning to guaranty they will finish at least in seventh place and thus avoid an opening round playoff against the Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Rangers won 4-0 Saturday.
The Islanders will now finish 8th and face the Penguins unless the Ottawa Senators, who feature the top goalie in the league in Craig Anderson (1.67 goals allowed per game), lose their final two games in regulation.
Any thought that the teams would not play hard in the regular season finale due to the Rangers having clinched a playoff spot and the Devils having been eliminated ended early, as the front line peppered the Devils with attacks.
The Rangers took four shots in the first 2:37, the final one being a slap shot by Stepan after Callahan retrieved a rebound off a save by Johan Hedberg. The Rangers kept up the pressure throughout, and did not even slow down after a penalty. Skating shorthanded, Stepan found Callahan for a short wrist shot to make it 2-0, and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had no trouble making it hold up.
Rick Nash scored in the second and third period to truly put the game out of reach.
The Rangers could play Boston, Washington or Montreal in the opening round.