The Rangers' Nick Holden celebrates his goal against the Devils...

The Rangers' Nick Holden celebrates his goal against the Devils at the Prudential Center on Dec. 21, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

NEWARK, N.J. — Like Dan Girardi, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said, Nick Holden is “safe and dependable”, a good complement to Ryan McDonagh, Girardi’s long-time partner before the veteran was bought out last summer.

Holden’s goal in the first period of the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the Devils was the first by a Rangers defenseman since Nov. 6 when Kevin Shattenkirk scored against the Blue Jackets on a power play. It was the second of the season for Holden, who had 11 last year. He was coming off a two-assist game against the Ducks.

Holden, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, also was at the wrong end of Kyle Palmieri’s high stick that cost the Devils a goal in the second. Palmieri decked Holden to the ice from behind before Nico Hischier put a loose puck in with 4:45 left. But the goal was immediately waved off as Palmieri was sent to the box.

Shattenkirk benched

Shattenkirk, who was whistled for two penalties and turned the puck over on Blake Coleman’s shorthanded goal late in the second, was benched for all but 4:31 of the third period.

“At the end of the day, when the game gets to crunch time, you do what you feel is best for the team,” Vigneault said.

Shattenkirk had no shots on goal and was a minus-1 in just 16:23 of ice time. McDonagh led all players with 35 shifts and 28:51 of ice time.

Blue notes

Paul Carey, who had two goals in the prior game against the Ducks, recorded an assist on Jimmy Vesey’s goal . . . Blake Coleman’s shorthanded goal was only the second allowed by the Blueshirts this season . . . Boo Nieves and Steven Kampfer were healthy scratches for the Rangers; Jesper Bratt (foot), Dalton Prout, Jimmy Hayes and Ben Lovejoy were scratched for the Devils.

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