The Devils had not lost a game when leading after two periods since before John Hynes was named head coach. According to MSG Networks, the last time it happened was March 14, 2014 when it occurred against the Florida Panthers.
But there’s a first time for everything and tonight was the first time it happened in the Hynes Era. The Devils led 2-1 after two periods of play and ended up losing the game 4-2 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight.
Yet more roster turnover as we begin and the Devils take more lumps. Eric Tangradi and Brandon Gignac were recalled from AHL Binghamton as John Quenneville and Stefan Noesen were both out with upper body injuries tonight. For Tangradi, it was his Devils debut as he had last played in the NHL in the 2016-17 season. For Gignac, it was the youngster’s NHL debut. Tangradi played left wing on the third line while Gignac skated on the third line also on the left side.
The goaltending matchup featured the veterans rathers than the respective team’s young goalies. Cory Schneider went for the Devils, playing very well and stopping 37 of 40 shots against for a .925 save percentage on the night. Facing him was the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who recently joined Marty Brodeur as a NHL goalie to play 800 games for one team. He made 22 saves on 24 shots for a .917 save percentage.
A bright spot, besides Cory Schneider, for the Devils was their power play. They finally snapped their 10 game power play drought when Will Butcher had a shot from the point tipped in by Blake Coleman with 11 seconds remaining in the first period. That one was on the power play and gave the Devils a 2-0 lead at the time. That was one of five power play shots. The Devils also had four shorthanded shots. The Devils were 1-for-2 on the power play. As for the Rangers, they were 0-for-5 as the Devils’ penalty kill was on point. New York ended up with seven shots on the man advantage but could not get one by Cory.
The Devils were winless in five while the Rangers were winless in six. Something had to give. New Jersey had also been shut out in two of their last three.
But a shut out was made impossible at 16:26 when Damon Severson blasted a shot by Lundqvist after he took a pass from Kenny Agostino in the first period. Agostino had curled back along the half wall to buy time and dished to Severson at the point. That made it 1-0 Devils. Michael McLeod had the secondary assist (his first NHL point – congratulations to him).
The Devils had a rare 4-on-3 power play for 24 seconds when the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich was called for tripping Egor Yakovlev and Yakovlev was nabbed for embellishment, which made it a 4-on-4 at 17:37 of the first. New York’s Libor Hajek then took a high-sticking penalty on Agostino to put the Devils up 4-on-3 at 19:08. The first two penalties expired, making it a regular 5-on-4 power play for the Devils and that is when Coleman scored his goal to make it 2-0 Devils. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist on Coleman’s goal, Butcher had the primary.
But from there, the Devils would almost run out of gas, giving up four straight to the Rangers. It began late in the second frame, at 18:22, when Ryan Strome redirected a Kevin Shattenkirk shot by Cory that just trickled through his legs. Vladislav Namestnikov had the secondary assist as the game was now 2-1 Devils.
The Rangers’ second goal came just 1:29 into the third period off the stick of Hajek (his first NHL goal) and occurred when the Devils were unable to clear the puck from their own zone. Hajek then took a pass from Chris Kreider and snapped a wrist shot over Schneider’s shoulder to make it all even. Strome had the other assist on the goal.
New York took the lead for the first time at the 13:25 mark of the third when Namestnikov set up shop at the top of the near faceoff circle and scored on a one-timer off of a pass from Mika Zibanejad. Brady Skjei had the secondary.
Strome, who would go on to be named the game’s first star with three points, scored into an empty net when Schneider was pulled with about 1:15 left in regulation. Strome got assists from Namestnikov (who also had three points on the night) and emerging Devil killer Zibanejad. That made it 4-2 Rangers, which was our final.
The Devils had been 20-0-3 this season alone when leading after two periods according to Steve Cangialosi. That streak was now ended as the Rangers came away with the victory.
The Devils were out shot 41 to 24, as Cory, again, played extremely well. The Rangers won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs but the Devils out hit them 39 to 26. The Devils also led in blocked shots with 12 to New York’s nine. The Rangers also had 15 giveaways to the Devils’ 11.
Severson led all Devils skaters in time on ice with 23:45 (including 1:48 on the power play and 5:31 on the PK) while Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 21:12 (1:25 on the PP and 3:28 on the PK). Shots were led by Palmieri, Tangradi, Blake Pietila, and Severson who all had three. Hits were led by Agostino with five. Blocks by Zajac, Tangradi, Steven Santini and Yakovlev with two each. Takeaways were led by Nick Lappin, Coleman, Tangradi, Joey Anderson and Connor Carrick with one apiece.
Gignac’s stat line read: a minus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal, one block and two giveaways all in 9:04 of TOI in his debut game.
Next up, the real meat of the Devils’ road trip begins. They are off to Calgary to take on the Flames on Tuesday. Puck drop for that game is 9 PM Eastern and we will have a write-up for you then. Until then, please leave a comment if you like and have a great rest of the weekend.