The New Jersey Devils (25-25-11, 61 pts) lost in overtime to the New York Rangers (40-19-2, 82 pts) in an overall thrilling game on February 25.
The Hudson River Rivalry between the Devils and the Rangers never disappoints, especially with the amount of bad blood both franchises’ have towards each other. It wasn’t necessarily the “smash-mouth, knock-out,” brawls that there were in years past. This game took a different approach, which was a fast-paced scoring clinic.
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first period, thanks to goals from Chris Kreider (6:40, assisted by Dan Girardi and Mats Zuccarello) and Oscar Lindberg (17:32, assisted by winger Jesper Fast/defenseman Nick Holden). It looked like it was going to be one of those games for the Devils, but Adam Henrique had other plans. Henrique scored a late second period, wraparound goal to pull the Devils within one (18:28, assisted by winger Beau Bennett/winger P.A. Parenteau).
The third period. What a third period. The most exciting, fast-paced hockey you will ever see, where if you blinked, you were bound to miss something. Kyle Palmieri scored two goals in the first 1:14 of the third period to give the Devils a 3-2 lead (0:27/1:14. assisted by center Travis Zajac/winger Taylor Hall on 1st goal, and defenseman Andy Greene/Zajac on 2nd goal). After that, there were non-stop scoring opportunities with no time breaks.
3-on-2 and 2-on-1 scoring chances highlighted the third period, causing the sold out crowd of 16,514 to erupt into pandemonium. With less than five minutes to go in the third period, Rangers defenseman Adam Clendening would score on a slap shot to tie the game at 3 (15:35, assisted by winger Chris Kreider/center Mika Zibanejad). This goal forced the game to go into overtime.
Overtime was a continuation of the third period, highlighted by Palmieri’s breakaway attempt, where he decked into a backhand shot, which was just stopped by Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta’s stick. Ten seconds later, Mika Zibanejad had a breakaway chance of his own. Zibanejad would fake a slap shot and go for a wrist shot, which found its way between Devils’ goaltender Cory Schneider’s legs into the goal (assisted defenseman Brady Skjei), sealing the Rangers 4-3 victory.
“I have to make that save in overtime and give my guys another chance,” said Schneider. “A lot of good things tonight, a fun game to play in, but obviously the way we lost put a sour taste in my mouth and our team’s as well.”
This is a game where the Devils have nothing to be ashamed of. They pushed the Rangers to the limit in the third period and vice versa. It was a matter of the Rangers finding a way to put the puck in the back of the net to tie the game and to win the game in overtime. If the Devils continue to play in this fashion, they will get more points in the standings and move closer into a playoff spot.
“We had lots of chances early in the third period to be able to go up more than one goal,” said Devils head coach John Hynes. “I thought Raanta made some huge saves in the third period. [The Rangers] did a good job, first team, to keep it at one. They found a way to get the tie-er and the game winner.”
“I thought we played good throughout the whole game,” said Henrique, when asked about their increase in scoring plays and opportunities. “Just sticking to our game plan was the biggest thing.”
Kyle Palmieri certainly made his presence felt against the Rangers on his two goal, one assist performance. It seemed as though whenever the puck was in front of the net, Palmieri always had his stick it and forcing second chance shots. The line of Palmieri, Zajac, and Hall sure did give the Rangers fits this game, and the score sheet proved it.
“We came out in the third, we did what we needed to do,” said Palmieri. “We were down a goal and a couple of minutes in, we were up. We gave up the lead at the end but there were some positives there.”
The Devils look to build off the momentum coming off this game against the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens (33-21-8, 74 pts) on February 27.
Monday, February 27: vs. Montreal Canadiens
Thursday, March 2: @ Washington Capitals
Saturday, March 4: @ Boston Bruins
Sunday, March 5: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Tuesday, March 7: @ Columbus Blue Jackets
Thursday, March 9: @ Colorado Avalanche
What does this mean?