The Devils came into their final preseason matchup with the New York Rangers this year looking to get a mix of veterans and youngsters into their lineup.
One veteran who was supposed to start the game for New Jersey was Cory Schneider. Schneider would end up not playing due to minor soreness he felt after practice. Steve Cangialosi of MSG Networks stressed that the injury does not seem major and that he will not likely miss much more time than this game.
In his place, Anders Lindback got the nod, making 30 saves on 34 Ranger shots on the night, including stopping a penalty shot by Chris Kreider. The Rangers countered with Antti Raanta and Magnus Hellberg, who made a combined 28 saves on 33 Devils shots on goal. The New York goalies split the time almost right down the middle, with Raanta playing 30:43 and Hellberg playing 27:19 (he was pulled late in the third for an extra attacker when the Rangers were down by one).
It looked like a continuation of the last game between these two rivals when Jesper Fast scored for the Rangers 3:27 into the first period. He beat Lindback off assists from Brady Skjei and Adam Clendening.
From then on, the Devils got rolling. Beau Bennett scored his first of two on the night on the power play after Maxim Lapierre had gone off for hooking at 4:04. Fifty seven seconds into the man advantage, with Adam Henrique working the perimeter, he gave the puck to Yohann Auvitu at the point, who passed to Kyle Palmieri along the far halfwall. Palmieri fired and Bennett buried the rebound behind Raanta. The game was tied at one.
Three minutes and forty-four seconds later, Bennett struck again when Taylor Hall worked the puck from behind the net and found Bennett at the hashmarks at the far faceoff circle. He beat Raanta five hole and the Devils lead 2-1.
The Rangers tied things at two 9:07 into the second period when John Gilmour scored off assists to Ryan Gropp and Philip McRae.
But the Devils would pull away starting with a power play set up when McRae was called for interference against Devante Smith-Pelly. On the ensuing man advantage, Taylor Hall would notch his first goal as a New Jersey Devil and, although it came in the preseason, it will hopefully be the first of many to come. It started when Hall played catch with Pavel Zacha along the far boards, then cut to the net, getting the puck back and firing it by the Rangers goaltender. Auvitu had the secondary assist, his third of the night.
Zacha would add his own goal a little less than three minutes later when Michael Cammalleri jarred the puck free from the Ranger puck carrier in the New York zone. He quickly passed to Zacha who beat Hellberg to make it 4-2 New Jersey.
The Devils would score their third straight unanswered goal when, at 18:12 of the second, Palmieri passed to Travis Zajac through the neutral zone. He fired in on Hellberg and his rebound dribbled out to John Moore at just inside the Ranger blueline. He fired a slap shot; beating the Ranger goaltender cleanly and giving the Devils a 5-2 lead.
But New York would get back into the game. First, at 3:53 of the third, former Islander Michael Grabner scored from Michael Paliotta and Mika Zibanejad.
At 5:51, Lindback would stop Kreider on a penalty shot after a Hall giveaway at the Ranger blueline led to Ben Lovejoy taking a hooking call on the backcheck on Kreider Lindback stopped that, but at 15:37, Smith-Pelly was called for tripping Grabner and the Rangers went on the power play. They would convert when Zibanejad scored from JT Miller and Clendening setting up a frantic last 1:30 of the third period.
New York pulled their goalie and pushed hard, but the Devils were able to weather the storm with a few key clears and a timely penalty when Lovejoy was called for holding in front of the New Jersey net with just two seconds left in the game. The Devils won the defensive zone draw and the game.
It was a good showing from the Devils and from Anders Lindback, who was starting on short notice. Hall had a good game in his Devils home debut, as did Auvitu and a few other players.
The Devils will look to continue this momentum and build upon what they have when they play their next preseason contest at Barclays Center against the Islanders on Monday. Now is an important time in camp, as a lot of players have been sent back to their junior teams or to Albany and the remaining players who are on the bubble must step up to make the roster.