The puck had barely touched the ice for the opening face-off when gloves were dropped and fists started flying as the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils tore into each other in their NHL Eastern Conference clash on Monday.
The Rangers looked to get the best of the early battle, in which three skaters from each team squared off, and emerged with a 4-2 win that clinched a spot in the playoffs and maintained their conference lead.
New York's Brandon Dubinsky scored a minute after calm was restored a nd Dan Girardi stretched the lead to 2-0 less than a minute into the second.
New Jersey's Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora netted later in the second, as did the Rangers' Mats Zuccarello, as the home team took a 3-2 lead into the final period.
New York's Derek Stepan made the game safe with a tip-in goal with 1:10 left.
The win snapped two straight losses for the Rangers (45-20-7) and moved them three points clear of surging Pittsburgh in the Atlantic division.
The Devils (41-27-5) remain sixth in the conference.
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