NEWARK - The Rangers fell to the Devils, 2-1, in coach Alain Vigneault's preseason debut with the Blueshirts last night, but the longtime NHL bench boss wasn't flustered.
"There were things I liked, you can tell some of the players were trying to apply some of the things we had been talking about, some of the things we've been showing on video," Vigneault said. "But there was obviously room for improvement, without a doubt . . . It was a first step and it's going to get better."
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With the Rangers totaling 34 shots on Cory Schneider and Keith Kincaid, Vigneault said he "liked our shooting mentality . . . what we're really going to need to address and put a focus on is about getting in front of the other team's goaltender.
In Schneider's case (22 saves in two periods), almost all of the shots were without traffic."
The Rangers' lone goal was scored by Dominic Moore, the veteran center who sat out last season after the death of his wife, Katie, from a rare form of liver cancer.
"I was very impressed," said Vigneault, "for a guy who's been off for a full year, to come out and play the way he did, to talk to the players the way he did on the bench, his experience . . . give him full marks, full credit."
Moore, who also will play Tuesday night in Philadelphia, said: "It's good for me, day by day, it's a matter of getting my timing and my feel back,"
Moore, who played 13:33, including 2:01 shorthanded, added, "Every game, there's adjustments and the more I play, the better."
Two other Rangers, one who missed a chunk of last season with a severe eye injury, and one youngster who was acquired in the summer from Montreal, also drew praise.
Defenseman Marc Staal, who played 21:56 and led the team with six shots, "was a little anxious, a little nervous . . . it's only going to get better for Marc," Vigneault said.
Staal said he felt relieved, and would like to get as much ice time before the regular season to feel comfortable.
Danny Kristo, 23, acquired for prospect Christian Thomas, took the two shots that led to Moore's backhander that found the net at 4:59 of the third.
"I liked Kristo's game tonight, I thought he showed some real poise, and good offensive abilities," Vigneault said.
The winger played 17:24 and was on the ice in the final minutes as the Rangers pulled goalie Cam Talbot for an extra attacker to try to tie the score.
"It was nice to be out there, but I've got to keep working hard," said Kristo, a Minnesota native who played at the University of North Dakota.
Vigneault, 52, who coached Vancouver for seven seasons and ranks 26th on the NHL's all-time regular-season wins list with 422, was unruffled behind the bench, unlike his predecessor, John Tortorella, who displayed his emotions freely, even in a preseason game like Monday night's. In fact, much of the evening, Vigneault quietly consulted associate coach Scott Arniel, who diagramed plays during breaks and spoke with players.
Notes & quotes:Henrik Lundqvist stopped 14 of 15 shots before leaving with 9:14 remaining in the second period for Talbot, who allowed a goal 31 seconds into the third on a long slapper by Eric Gelinas. Martin Biron and Talbot will share duties in Philadelphia . . . The first Devils goal was scored by Mattias Tedenby at 10:20 of the first period.