The Devils ventured across the Hudson River to Madison Square Garden to take on the rival Rangers in the team’s second preseason game of the year. It was a good matchup, marred by a choppy flow that came from the officials calling everything and anything and in the end, the Rangers came away with the 4-3 overtime victory.
Kevin Shattenkirk was making his Rangers debut tonight with the highly hyped free agent suiting up for the Blueshirts in the first time at MSG. The Devils were not dressing Nico Hischier or Will Butcher. New signee Drew Stafford and captain Andy Greene slotted in instead.
The goaltending matchup saw Cory Schneider make his first preseason start. He made 14 saves on 17 shots in 30:16 of ice time. He looked good, making two post-to-post stops in close that stood out. Opposing him for the first half of the game was the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who made 11 saves on 13 shots in 30:09 of time on ice. Their relief for the second half of the game saw Mackenzie Blackwood come in for New Jersey, going 11-for-12 in 34:35 while New York put out Alexandar Georgiev who was 15-for-16 in 34:08.
The major story from this game were the new rule changes and how they were being called. Faceoff infractions were the main thing here. Two faceoff infractions on one faceoff now results in a delay of game penalty, and the linesmen are being more strict with what they are calling as infractions. For instance, if a player’s skate crosses over the line that runs in front of the faceoff dot in the circles, an infraction can be called. If a player on the outside breaks into the circle too soon, an infraction can be called.
In the end, the Devils were 1-for-7 on the power play while the Rangers finished 2-for-9, including the game winner in OT with the man advantage. There were a few 5-on-3’s for both teams due to the nature of the officials calling everything they felt needed to be called.
The Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, whose brother, Jimmy, was in the Devils’ lineup tonight on a professional tryout (PTO), broke the seal on this one, scoring at 15:54 of the first period on the power play to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead. New York would take that lead into the first intermission. He got assists from Jimmy Vesey and Shattenkirk.
The Devils, however, would not take long to get that back. Just 4:11 into the second period, Miles Wood pushed the puck up to Stafford, who stopped along the far half wall in the Rangers zone, spun around and centered a pass to Pavel Zacha. The puck fluttered over to him and Zacha batted it out of the air and behind Lundqvist to tie the game at one.
But the Rangers would strike right back. Just 21 seconds after Zacha’s goal, Chris Kreider scored from Mats Zuccarello to put New York back in front, 2-1.
The back-and-forth nature of this game was evident when the Devils re-tied it at two at the 7:15 mark of the second. Stafford took the puck from Jimmy Hayes off the cycle on the power play. He left the puck for Brian Gibbons on a nice drop pass and Gibbons beat Lundqvist glove side to make it 2-2.
But once again, the Rangers had the answer with David Desharnais scoring from Shattenkirk and Kreider at 10:16 of the second to give the Rangers the 3-2 lead going into the second intermission.
The second period also featured a good scrap between the Devils’ Nick Lappin and Matt Puempel of the Rangers at the 13:00 mark.
The new faceoff infraction rules benefitted the Devils on the goal that would tie things up for them in the third period. After the Adam Henrique got kicked out of the faceoff circle, Jimmy Hayes came in to take the faceoff deep in the Rangers’ zone at the 3:20 mark of the third. Hayes won the faceoff back to Damon Severson, who ripped a shot as Hayes went towards the net. He tipped it past goaltender Georgiev to tie things up at three.
And that was it. The game went to the OT period tied at three. The Devils would get a good chance as Miles Wood was hauled down in the neutral zone and did not know that Pavel Zacha was coming in for the loose puck. He used his hand to try to get the puck to Zacha and was called for a hand pass. Zacha would have had a clear breakaway. Michael McLeod also made a nice kick save on a scramble in front of his own net when New York had a wide open net to shoot at.
Instead, it was Filip Chytil who scored with four seconds left in OT from Zuccarello and Shattenkirk on the power play to give the Rangers the 4-3 win.
Next up, the Devils play tomorrow night at Montreal. I do not think this one will be televised down here, but I will try to get something up if I can.