Well, it had the makings of a good one. Saturday matinee on Thanksgiving weekend, your arch rivals in the building. But for Devils fans, this was one of those games that makes you want to hide under a rock somewhere. The Devils special teams imploded and the Rangers won 4-0 at Prudential Center this afternoon.
New Jersey had EIGHT power play opportunities and could not score on one of them. The Rangers took 34 minutes in penalties this afternoon and the Devils mustered seven shots with the man advantage, but to no avail.
By contrast, New York had just two power play chances, scored on one of them and fired four shots on Mackenzie Blackwood. They also had four shorthanded goals… and scored on two of them.
The Devils had some changes to their lineup, as Jack Hughes would not be facing off with Kaapo Kakko today. He got hit in the outside of the ankle blocking a shot during the Montreal game on Thursday and is now day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Kevin Rooney, however, was just activated off of injured reserve and was back in the lineup today. To make room for him on the roster, Brett Seney was sent down to AHL Binghamton. John Hayden and Mirco Mueller were the healthy scratches for the Devils.
The Devils were in their heritage white, red and green jerseys today, forcing the Rangers to wear their blues away from Madison Square Garden.
Despite how the game turned out, it was the Devils who actually got the first scoring chance when Travis Zajac hit the far post from the slot early in the first period.
But from there, things began to really fall apart. It began when Pavel Zacha took a holding penalty at the 10:57 mark of the first. On the power play, at 12:45, Kakko threaded the needle from the half wall, passing to Adam Fox at the side of the Devils’ net. He jammed it home to make it 1-0 Rangers. Jacob Trouba had the secondary assist on the goal.
Although there was no scoring in the second period, the Devils were set up for a nice spot in the third when Libor Hajek clipped Wayne Simmonds in the face with his stick at 19:27 of the second. It drew blood, the officials reviewed to make sure and a double minor penalty was called on Hajek. The Devils would have four minutes of power play time, with the majority of it coming in the early part of the third period.
However, things did not turn out as the Devils drew it up. It began with a turnover in the neutral zone that led to Brendan Lemieux and Mika Zibanejad entering the Devils’ zone on a 2-on-1. Lemieux passed and Zibanejad finished and the Rangers had their first of two shorties on the day. That also made it 2-0 New York.
Later in the third, at the 5:21 mark, another break for the Devils. Chris Kreider hit Matt Tennyson while Tennyson’s back was to Kreider. Rooney took exception to this and fought Kreider. In the end, Rooney received five minutes for fighting while Kreider got five for fighting plus two for boarding plus a game misconduct. The Devils would end up with a five-minute power play off of this, but once again the Rangers’ struck.
Once again, it was an odd man rush as Jesper Fast broke in on a 3-on-1. It was finished by Fast off a pass by Zibanejad and the Rangers had another shorthanded goal to make it 3-0. This goal came at 5:52 and Trouba had the other assist. It was 3-0 and the Rangers had not even notched an even strength goal.
A little later in the third, Zajac had a chance, being stopped on a partial breakaway only for the rebound to be put in by Miles Wood. But it was just one of those days. The puck crossed the goal line after the whistle had already been blown. Replay review by the referees confirmed this and the Devils did not get on the board.
The Devils would pull Blackwood with about three minutes to go in the game and, almost immediately, Brady Skjei scored into the empty net unassisted to give us our final of 4-0.
It was a rough afternoon for the Devils. Blackwood stopped 19 of 22 Ranger shots fired at him for a .864 save percentage while Alexander Georgiev stopped all 33 Devils shots he saw for the shutout.
The Devils won only 43-percent of the game’s faceoffs while outhitting the Rangers 32-17. The New Yorkers had 11 blocked shots to the Devils’ two and the Devils had 13 giveaways to the Rangers’ five.
Individually, time on ice was led by Sami Vatanen who had 23:29 (7:36 on the power play and 1:05 killing penalties). Nico Hischier led the forwards with 21:16 total ice (8:58 on the power play, 1:44 on the PK). Shots were led by Taylor Hall and Jesper Boqvist, who both had four. Wayne Simmonds had a very busy day, as in addition to drawing the high-sticking double minor from Hajek, he also led the team in hits with five. Blocks were led by Zajac and Vatanen, who each had one and takeaways were led by Hall and Nikita Gusev who had two apiece.
Next up, on Monday night, the Devils had up to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Puck drop for that game is at 7 PM and we hope to see you here. Surely things can’t get any worse, can they?