For the first time this season, the Devils are looking up at the Rangers in the Eastern Conference standings.

That’s not a good place to be right now because, also for the first time this season, the Devils are not in a playoff spot.

The Rangers took over eighth place in the East with a 3-2 victory over the Devils Tuesday night at Prudential Center.

Rick Nash’s 2-on-1 goal 7:25 into the second period snapped a 2-2 tie and put the Rangers ahead for good.

Both teams now have 32 points, but the Rangers have a game in hand and own the tiebreaker with more regulation and overtime wins (12-11).

Tuesday’s contest was the first of three meetings between the Hudson River rivals over the last 20 games. They will play twice at Madison Square Garden in the final week of the season – on April 21 and again on April 27 in both teams’ regular season finale.

Those two games could determine which of these teams heads on to the playoffs and which heads home for a long postseason-less summer.

The Devils are just 3-8-2 in their last 13 games with only one regulation win. They hope the return of goaltender Martin Brodeur Thursday night in Carolina from a pinched nerve in his upper back/neck will give them a much-needed boost.