The Devils returned to the NYC area tonight, traveling across the Hudson River to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and losing 3-1.
It was the second meeting of the season between these perennial rivals, with the Devils having lost back in November in a shootout also at the Garden.
The Devils, who were coming off of a loss in Columbus earlier this week, made only one change to their lineup as Pavel Zacha (who had his goal against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday belatedly changed to a power play goal following a time adjustment) was out with a “non-COVID related illness” as he joined Ty Smith and Christian Jaros as scratches.
Colton White remained in for Smith while Mason Geertsen slotted in for Zacha.
The Devils in net were right back to Nico Daws, making his third straight start tonight. He continues to play well, this game making 29 saves on 32 total Ranger shots for a .906 save percentage. He got the lone New York shorthanded shot and their three power play shots. The Rangers were 0-for-3 on the power play as a team.
While Daws continues to trend upward for the Devils and gets better, the Rangers sent out Igor Shesterkin, who at this time is playing all-world – nearly a lock for the Vezina Trophy and may even be a Hart Trophy candidate. He stopped 32 of the Devils’ 33 total shots for a .970 save percentage on the night and stopped their lone shorthanded chance. The Devils peppered him with nine power play shots on three man-up opportunities and he stopped all of those too. The Devils were 0-for-3 a a team on the power play. At five-on-five he stopped 22 of the Devils’ 23 shots.
The Devils will be starting a run of five games in the next nine days – with every game over the next two weeks (seven games in 14 days) coming against Western Conference teams. This would be the last meeting against an Eastern foe for a while and the Devils had to make it count.
But Shesterkin made himself known very early on in the game. Just before the mid-point of the first period, he made two big saves on Nico Hischier, stopping Hischier’s initial shot on his forehand and following up by stopping Nico’s rebound on his backhand.
Those saves would lead to the Rangers taking the momentum and Mika Zibanejad giving them the lead.
At the 11:11 mark of the first, Jacob Trouba took a shot from the point that Daws made the initial save and ended up poking the rebound through Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s legs right to Zibanejad, who was cutting in front and scored to make it 1-0 New York. Chris Kreider had the secondary assist on the goal.
The Devils would knot things prior to the first intermission at 13:56 gone by in the first.
Then, Andreas Johnsson hit Hischier with a pass and Nico cut up the middle of the ice. He made a nice move through the Rangers defense and split the defenders. As pointed out by Devils MSG+ color analyst Ken Danekyo, there seemed to be confusion between the Rangers players about which one would take Hischier. Nico then finished with a nice shot over Shesterkin’s glove off of the rush to tie the game at one.
Right after the Hischier goal, Yegor Sharangovich had Shesterkin bean on a play but lost control of the puck at the last second to keep the Devils from taking the lead.
The first period ended with Ranger fans finally getting what they wanted as PK Subban answered the bell (for what? Not too sure.) against Barclay Goodrow in a heated scrap with a minute left in the frame.
The second period saw the Rangers take the lead when Filip Chytil scored at 8:57 gone in period.
Ryan Lindgren passed to Chytil off an odd man rush with Chytil beating Daws to make it 2-1 New York. This would go down as the game winning goal for the Rangers.
The Devils would get chances. Ryan Graves crashed into Shesterkin’s net late in the second, knocking the Rangers goalie’s mask off and having his left skate fly up as he was trying to get out of Shesterkin’s way. A Ranger player nearly got a skate blade to the face on the play, but was okay.
Sharangovich had another good chance early in the third period with blocker save. That was traded midway through the period by Ryan Strome just missing the net on the near side as Daws just got a bit of the puck to send it wide.
Kreider added an insurance goal for the Rangers when Zibanejad found a seam to Kreider from along the left-wing boards. Kreider scored on a one-timer as he was fed by Zibanejad and beat Daws on the far side. That made it 3-1 and Adam Fox had the secondary assist.
Daws made a big right pad save on K’Andre Miller on a New York power play late in the third. The Devils goaltender was then pulled with about a minute to go in regulation but time ran out and the Devils could not equal things out.
The Devils edged the Rangers in shots at 33 to 32. The Devils won 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Michael McLeod leading the Devils centers with 67-percent of his personal draws won.
Each team accumulated 13 penalty minutes as a team. The Rangers finished with 27 hits to the Devils’ 19 and 18 blocked shots to the Devils’ 11. As a team, the Devils turned the puck over just four times while the Rangers did it ten times.
Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:20 of total ice time (including 2:57 on the power play and 4:14 on the penalty kill). Jonas Siegenthaler led the Devils defensemen with shorthanded time with 4:53 to go with his eight seconds on the PP and 20:38 of total ice time.
Among the forwards, Sharangovich led in total ice time with 21:37 (which included 2:55 on the power play and 2:34 on the penalty kill). Power play time was led by Hischier, Nate Bastian, Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes who, as a unit, logged 2:57 of power play time. Hischier led in PK time with 2:38 and finished with 20:57 of total time on ice.
Hischier led in shots on goal with seven. McLeod and Geertsen led in hits with four each. Blocks by Sharangovich, Severson and Graves with two each. Personal giveaways were led by Hughes with two while Bastian, Jimmy Vesey, Hamilton, Severson and Graves each led in personal takeaways with one apiece.
Next up, the Devils will begin their run of two weeks of games against exclusively Western Conference teams when the St. Louis Blues arrive to Prudential Center on Sunday.
Puck drop for that game is 1 PM and we will have coverage for you right here following the broadcast on MSG+.
Until then, enjoy your weekend everyone!