Devils Doubled Up by Rangers, 6-3

The last time the Devils dropped all games of a five-game or more homestand, according to MSG+ 2, was November 4-14, 2000. That team went on to play for the Stanley Cup, only losing in the championship series to the Colorado Avalanche.

The 2021 Devils join that list of Devils teams to drop all games of a five-game or more homestand today. Maybe there is hope after all.

The Devils got ready for their second straight against the rival New York Rangers. They lost by a score of 6-3, giving up six goals for the second straight game as well.

The only roster change the Devils made for today’s game saw Nikita Gusev slot back in and Michael McLeod loaned to the taxi squad. Mikhail Maltsev moved from wing to center in McLeod’s absence.

In addition, Mackenzie Blackwood was back in after being pulled on Thursday night.

Blackwood made 22 saves on 27 Rangers shots for an .815 save percentage. He stopped six of seven on the power play and 16 of 20 at even strength. The Rangers finished with 28 shots on net with an empty net goal.

Scott Wedgwood served as the Devils’ backup as Ryan Murray and Aaron Dell were the healthy scratches for New Jersey.

Facing him was Alexandar Georgiev, starting for Igor Shesterkin, who suffered a mild groin strain on Thursday. Old friend Keith Kinkaid served as New York’s backup, having been signed as a free agent by the Blueshirts this offseason. It was his first time in uniform this year.

Georgiev made 24 saves on 27 shots for an .889 save percentage. He stopped the lone Devils shorthanded shot as well as their lone power play shot. He turned aside 22-of-25 at even strength.

The Rangers also welcomed back Kaapo Kakko, who had not played since February due to COVID.

Following Chris Kreider’s natural hat trick on Thursday (the fourth of his career), how did we get to the 6-3 final today?

The Devils were back in their Reverse Retro uniforms.

The goal scoring kicked off with a bang. Adam Fox, taking a puck from Georgiev, skated the length of the rink, saw an opportunity and went five-hole on Blackwood. This came in the first two minutes of a double minor for high-sticking to Sami Vatanen and, after Fox simply walked in at the 2:06 mark, New York still had two minutes of power play time left.

The Devils would kill that, but at 7:15 of the first, Ryan Strome scored his first of two when Kreider batted a Devils’ passing attempt down, getting it to Strome, who had walked in behind the Devils’ defense. Strome made a nice backhanded shot that went over Blackwood’s shoulder and in.

Pavel Zacha had tried to make a neat pass out of the Devils’ zone when he needed to go up the boards on the play. Kakko had the secondary assist on the goal.

After Blackwood stopped Filip Chytil on a breakaway, the Devils began a comeback.

At 14:54, PK Subban took a pass at the point from Zacha. He let loose an absolute bomb of a shot that went over Georgiev’s blocker. Jesper Bratt had the secondary assist. It was now 2-1 as the Devils had cut the Ranger lead in half.

Less than a minute later, at 15:11, Maltsev – newly inserted into the lineup – tied things at two. It came when Yegor Shargovich chipped the puck up the boards to Nate Bastian. Bastian made a nice saucer pass to Maltsev, who finished with a nice goal.

It seemed we were headed into the intermission with a 2-2 tie, but then another former Devil struck for the Rangers.

Kevin Rooney scored on a 2-on-1 with Chytil. Chytil passed to Rooney, who chipped it over Blackwood to make it 3-2 going into the intermission instead. Julien Gauthier had the secondary assist on the goal that came at the 17:06 mark.

In the second, New York’s Libor Hajek made it 4-2 1:05 in. K’Andre Miller went deep into the Devils’ zone and stripped the puck. Pavel Buchnevich got it to Hajek at the point and he scored clean with no tip.

That was the only scoring of the second.

In the third, Chytil made it 5-2 Rangers when Gauthier stole the puck just outside the Devils’ blueline. He tried a wraparound and the rebound came out to Chytil who buried it at the 8:39 mark of the third.

The Devils were falling behind again but had one last gasp.

At 17:48 into the third, Bastian made it 5-3 when Bratt went wide, nearly lost the puck, but got it to Travis Zajac. Zajac centered it and Bastian’s shot trickled through Georgiev to get the Devils a little bit closer.

The Devils immediately pulled Blackwood after the Bastian goal to frantically try to tie things, but Strome scored his second into the empty net from Fox to make it 6-3, our final.

The Devils have now lost nine straight at home and their last regulation win was February 18 at Boston.

For the Devils, Subban led in time on ice with 24:22 while Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 19:35.

The Devils led in faceoff wins with 54-percent with Zajac leading the way with a 75-percent winning percentage amongst Devils centers.

The Devils went 0-for-1 on the power play while the Rangers went 1-for-5. The Devils also outhit the Rangers, 23-17, but had less blocked shots at five to the Rangers’ nine. The Devils also had more giveaways at 26 to the Rangers’ 24 in a pretty sloppily played game.

Shots on goal were led by Maltsev with three, hits were led by Bastian at four, blocks were led by Will Butcher with two and takeaways by Miles Wood with two.

Next up, the Devils travel up to Boston tomorrow for a meeting with the Bruins on NBCSN as a part of “Hockey Day in America.” Puck drop for that game is at 5 PM and we will see you then right here.

Stay safe everyone!

Devils Clobbered by Rangers, 6-1

To quote coach Lindy Ruff in his postgame presser: “We played a good first period.” What you know he was thinking was “but there were two more periods.”

The Devils’ losing streak continued as the team dropped a 6-1 decision to their archrivals, the New York Rangers tonight at Prudential Center. It was the first of two straight meetings between these teams at the venue.

First up some injury news. Nico Hischier was placed on injured reserve retroactive to February 27 with a sinus fracture and is week-to-week. The injury was suffered against the Capitals last week when an errant PK Subban slapshot hit him in the face shield and pushed the shield into his face.

Janne Kuokannen slotted in for Nico. Ryan Murray, Scott Wedgewood and Nikita Gusev were the healthy scratches for the Devils.

Both the Devils and the Rangers went with two goalies tonight. The Devils by choice, the Rangers due to injury.

Mackenzie Blackwood started for New Jersey, having a 2-0-0 record against the Rangers this season so far. Unfortunately, he was lit up for four goals, making 11 saves on 15 shots for a .733 save percentage. He was 0-for-1, letting in the Rangers’ only power play shot and 11-for-14 at even strength.

After the fourth goal, Aaron Dell came in in relief. He stopped two of four shots for a .500 save percentage. The Rangers ended with 19 shots on net.

For the Blueshirts, Igor Shesterkin started, making 32 saves on 33 Devils shots for a .970 save percentage. He stopped all four power play shots the Devils fired at him. He made 28 saves on 29 shots at even strength.

He got hurt moving left-to-right across the crease, stopping a Damon Severson chance late in the game and Alexander Georgiev came in for him. Georgiev stopped all three shots he faced. The Devils ended with 36 shots on goal in the game.

Following a huge shakeup for the Devils, top scorer Miles Wood was placed on the top line.

The Devils actually got off to a good start, as mentioned by Ruff in his press conference. Jack Hughes came out flying and hit the post early.

He then broke through at 7:12 of the first when Sami Vataenen fired a pass up ice. It missed and bounced off of the end boards as Hughes avoided the icing and grabbed the rebound, scoring to make it 1-0 Devils.

A pair of Chris Kreider goals in the second gave New York the lead heading into the final frame.

The first came 8:28 into the second on the power play when Pavel Buchnevich got the puck up to Ryan Strome. Strome then then went across the grain to Kreider who scored to tie things up at one.

The Rangers finished up 1-for-2 on the power play while the Devils’ woes continued, going 0-for-4.

Kreider struck again at 13:57 when a missed shot by Strome went to Ryan Lindgren. Lindgren shot and Kreider tipped it by Blackwood to make it 2-1 Rangers.

Not too much of a hole there going into the second intermission. It was in the third, however, that the wheels fell off for New Jersey.

Kreider completed the hat trick 23 seconds into the new period when he skated into the slot, taking a pass from Filip Chytil and shooting through a Strome screen. That made it 3-1 New York.

Buchnevich made it 4-1 at the 3:57 mark. It came on a weird odd man rush for the Rangers. With two Devils’ trailers watching the play. Alexis Lafreniere fed Buchnevich and he scored.

The Devils were now down three and Blackwood was pulled, making way for Dell.

And soon after that, Michael McLeod fought Brendan Smith as play moved to the Rangers zone off of the faceoff. It was a quick bout, rapidly broken up by the officials, but not after a few good punches were landed.

Following the Shesterkin injury, the Rangers had two more goals in them.

Smith scored at 15:25 when Phillip Di Giuseppe threw the puck on net. It came out to Smith, who had lots of net to shoot at and he buried it. It was now 5-1 Rangers. Former Devil Kevin Rooney had the secondary helper on that goal, his first point against the Devils as a Ranger.

Lafreniere finished off the scoring when Mika Zibanejad made a backhanded feed to him. He then cut in and scored glove side on Dell. At 6-1, the five-goal deficit was the biggest of year so far for the Devils.

The Devils won 64-percent of the game’s faceoffs, with McLeod winning 75-percent of his draws to lead all centers.

The Devils edged the Rangers in hits, 18-17, but had less blocks at 13-4 and more giveaways at 18-14.

Ty Smith led all Devils in ice time with 21:18, while Hughes led the forwards with 18:53. Kyle Palmieri and Kuokannen led in shots on goal with five each. Hits were led by Nate Bastian and Dmitry Kulikov with three each. Blocked shots were led by Mikhail Maltsev, Will Butcher, Sami Vatanen and Subban with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils do it again on Saturday when the Rangers come into the Rock for the second straight game. That game is at 1 PM and we will, of course, see you here.

Stay safe everyone!