NEWARK - Kevin Hayes won't win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. There's several freshmen with better numbers.
But Hayes' contributions to the Rangers' run to the Presidents' Trophy, including a goal and two assists Tuesday night in the Rangers' 4-2 win over the Devils, are formidable.
With 16 goals and 27 assists, the 22-year-old former first-round pick of the Blackhawks whom the Rangers signed as a free agent out of Boston College, is evolving into the big center the Rangers have sought for years.
"He's progressed skillwise, hockey knowledgewise," coach Alain Vigneault said.
"I've always been pretty confident in my abilities," said Hayes, who played 14:42. "I've been lucky to have guys help me from the start, especially Carl Hagelin, on and off the ice."
Talbot wins again
Cam Talbot made 19 saves, including 10 in the third period, and won his 21st game.
"It's pretty special no matter where you do it," he said. "We battled all season to get to this point. Pretty big moment."
Said Ryan McDonagh: "It was only fitting that he was able to be the goalie for our clinching game because of the long run [Talbot replaced Henrik Lundqvist for 23 games] when he sustained the pressure put on him, when we needed to find our game in a hurry."
Henrik Lundqvist will start the final two games of the season . . . The power play was 1-for-7, but Vigneault declined to address the issue. "With what we accomplished tonight, I don't want to be talking about the power play," he said . . . D Kevin Klein (broken left arm) had an X-ray. "Everything is coming along fine, we'll see how the next couple days go," Vigneault said. Klein is expected to be back for the first round of the playoffs . . . It is unclear whether right wing Mats Zuccarello, scratched with overall body soreness, will play Thursday against Ottawa.