In the season series this year between the Devils and Rangers, the visiting team had taken the victory in each game. That is until tonight when the Rangers hosted the Devils at Madison Square Garden and shutout the Devils for the second game in a row, 4-0.
The Devils were missing their two top scorers as Jesper Bratt – who blocked a shot on Tuesday against the Rangers, returned to the game, but was not able to go tonight – joined Pavel Zacha on the sidelines. Scott Wedgewood joined them as Aaron Dell was again the backup tonight.
Mackenzie Blackwood got the nod again tonight in goal for New Jersey. He stopped 29 of the 33 shots the Rangers fired his way for an .879 save percentage. He stopped 28-of-32 at even strength and got the only Ranger power play shot.
Facing him was Igor Shesterkin, who has a personal shutout streak against the Devils of 172:48 following his second NHL shutout. He got all 16 Devils shots, turned aside their lone power play shot and shorthanded shot and was 14-for-14 at even strength,
Previously, the Devils had outshot their opponents in the four games before this, mustering only one win. Tonight, they were outshot 33-16.
The Rangers were looking to gain points on the Bruins, who were in action against the Islanders. They are now within two points of them for the fourth East Division playoff spot. They would do so in their Reverse Retro uniforms tonight.
They did that by scoring early and often.
Just 47 seconds in, Jacob Trouba made it 1-0. Blackwood made the initial save on the first shot. Mika Zibanejad gathered the rebound at the side of the net and got it to Colin Blackwell at the far faceoff circle. He dropped it to Trouba in the high slot and he blasted a shot by Blackwood that went in and gave New York the early lead.
At 6:39, Ryan Lindgren made it 2-0. Adam Fox dumped the puck in and it rode the shelf to Artemi Panarin. Panarin made a backhand, no-look pass to Lindgren who was camped out in the high slot. He snapped the puck over Will Butcher, who was going down trying to block the shot and Blackwood.
Panarin, who ended the night with three points, got the next one at the 12:00 mark of the first. He and Ryan Strome cut in on a 2-on-1 and Strome teed Panarin up for a one-timer. Panarin ripped it by Blackwood and it was 3-0 Rangers. Blackwell had the secondary assist on the goal.
Panarin got his second at the 12:51 mark of the second period. Blackwell shanked a shot that bounded off of the end boards right to Strome. Strome whipped it to Panarin at the side of the net and Panarin simply tapped the puck in to make it 4-0.
Jack Hughes hit the post in the first period and PK Subban hit the crossbar in the second, which were some of the Devils’ best chances of the game.
Also of note was that at 16:31 of the second, Jack Hughes took his first penalty of the season. A tripping call against Mika Zibanejad. The Rangers went 0-for-2 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-3.
In the third, Vitali Kravtsov seemed to have scored his first NHL goal when Pavel Buchnevich stopped just inside the Devils’ zone and found Kravtsov cutting in behind the play. He beat Blackwood to make it 5-0.
The call on the ice was a good goal, but the Devils used their coach’s challenge, saying that the Rangers were offside on the play. The replay showed Kravtsov a step in before Buchnevich. The goal, which came at 9:57 of the third, was waved off and Kravtsov had his first NHL goal ripped from his hands.
So, 4-0 remained the score and was our final as well.
Subban led the team in time on ice with 23:49 while Nico Hischier led the forwards with 18:18. Damon Severson led in power play time with 3:19.
The Devils led in faceoff wins with a 53-percent winning percentage. The Rangers led in hits with 17 to the Devils’ 11. They also led in blocks (20-7) and had one more turnover than the Devils at 10 to the Devils’ nine.
Shots were led by Nick Merkley with three, hits by Marian Studenic (who slotted into the lineup for Bratt) with four, blocks were led by Jonas Siegenthaler with two and takeaways were led by Hughes with two.
So, next up, the series continues: Saturday at 12:30 PM at the Garden. This is the first time these rivals have ever faced each other four straight times in a regular season and the Devils will attempt to stave off the sweep.
Until then, stay safe everyone!