First off, I apologize for getting this up so late. I had a family function but was still able to catch the game.
The Devils made a deal to send out another impending UFA, but ended up falling to the Rangers 5-2 at Madison Square Garden earlier today.
New Jersey started the day with the news that defenseman Ben Lovejoy had been shipped off to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick and the Stars’ third round pick in this year’s Draft.
Carrick, a 5-foot, 11-inch, 195-pound 24-year-old native of Orland Park, Illinois, was drafted by the Capitals in 137th overall in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft and has played in 181 regular season NHL games for the Caps, the Maple Leafs and Dallas. He played for the US National Development Team and the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL before representing the US at the 2014 World Junior Championship. He had a goal and three assists for four points and 13 penalty minutes this season for Dallas. His time has been limited to only 14 games due to a foot injury suffered earlier this season.
Carrick did not play in today’s game at the Rangers, but is expected to join the team by Monday for the game against the Canadiens. Marcus Johansson was a healthy scratch for the Devils today as he continues to be held out for “precautionary reasons.” As another Devils UFA with trade value, Johansson will likely be traded prior to Monday’s trade deadline. Pavel Zacha was also a scratch today, as he continues to deal with an injury.
Miles Wood was back after leaving Thursday’s game with an injury after the second period. He had a three game goal-scoring streak snapped this afternoon.
The Rangers are in a similar situation to the Devils and held out Kevin Hayes, Adam McQuaid and Mats Zuccarello – all unrestricted free agents that will likely be dealt to a contender as well by Monday.
As for today’s game, the Devils went back to Cory Schneider in net. He stopped 29 of 33 New York shots for an .879 save percentage. The Rangers added another shot with an empty netter late in the game. For the Rangers, Alexander Georgiev made the start, stopping 19 of 21 for a .905 save percentage.
Special teams saw the Rangers officially go 1-for-3 (although they scored one goal just as a penalty was expiring, with the Devils essentially shorthanded) with five shots on the power play and one on the PK. New Jersey was 0-for-2 with three power play shots and a shorthanded shot as well.
The Rangers got on the board first just 4:48 into the game when, with a power play just ending (Brett Seney had gone off for boarding at 2:48), Cory made a save but could not cover the puck up. Jimmy Vesey then put in the loose puck. Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo had the assists. The Rangers were up 1-0, stopping Cory’s shut out streak at 85:44.
New York doubled their lead when Ryan Strome scored a goal that did count as a power play goal at 8:54 of the first. At 6:55, Drew Stafford was called for tripping Vladislav Namestnikov and on the ensuing man advantage, play broke down in front of the Devils’ net. Chris Kreider made a nice backhanded, no-look pass to Strome, who shoveled the puck into the open New Jersey goal mouth. Buchnevich had the secondary assist.
A minute or so after the second Ranger goal, Kurtis Gabriel got into it with Brendan Smith. It was not a full fledged scrap as it ended once Gabriel lost his balance and went down, but you can appreciate just what Gabriel was trying to do to get his team fired up.
Unfortunately, it was not enough as the Rangers struck again at the 14:23 mark of the first, making it 3-0. It came, once again, off of a scramble in front of the Devils’ net and saw Kreider poke home a loose puck. Vesey had the secondary assist (giving him two points in the period along with Kreider and Buchnevich) and Mika Zibanejad, who victimized the Devils last month at Prudential Center, had the primary.
A scoreless second period brought us to the final frame where the Devils cut the lead to 3-1 when Kenny Agostino scored his first as a Devil. It came at the 2:20 mark of the second and occurred when a Rangers player turned the puck over, trying to clear the puck up the middle and found Agostino cruising into the slot. He beat Georgiev unassisted and the Devils seemed to be back into things.
But a Brady Skjei goal at the 11:08 mark put New York up 4-1 and things started to get out of reach for the Devils. Skjei blasted a shot from the point that beat Cory cleanly off assists from Zibanejad and Kevin Shattenkirk. Following the goal, Eric Gryba and Kreider went at it, wrestling each other to the ice. The Devils would use their coach’s challenge to see if there was goaltender interference by Kreider in front, but the replay showed that there was not and the call of good goal stood. The Devils then lost their timeout, but this was one that they had to challenge for if they had even an inkling that there might have been goalie interference.
Andy Greene would get the Devils back within two when he scored 1:51 later from Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier. Palmieri stripped a Ranger of the puck deep in the New York zone and got it to Greene, cutting in through the slot. The captain found the back of the net for his fourth of the season and made it 4-2 Rangers.
The Devils would pull Schneider with about 2:30 remaining in the game and Strome would add his second of the night into an empty net to give us our final of 5-2. He scored from Namestnikov and Jesper Fast. In the end, Vesey, Strome, Kreider, Buchnevich and Zibanejad all had a multi-point game for New York. Kreider was the first star of the afternoon while Zibanejad was the second and Vesey the third.
With the empty net goal, the Rangers out shot the Devils 34-21. They also won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at 15 to the Devils’ 13. The Devils were the more physical team with 29 hits to the Rangers’ 21 and had more blocked shots at 18 to New York’s ten.
Individual stats saw ice time led by Damon Severson with 25:15 (inlcuding 2:48 on the power play and 3:37 on the penalty kill). Nico Hischier edged Jesper Bratt in ice time to lead the forwards 20:48 to 20:45. Hischier logged 2:52 on the PP and 25 seconds shorthanded. Shots on goal for the Devils was led by Hischier, Palmieri, Wood and Greene who each had three. The hits category was led by BLake Coleman with six while blocked shots was led by Wood with three. Takeaways were led by Hischier, Seney, Wood, Bratt and Greene who each had one.
Next up, New Jersey returns home to Prudential Center to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. Connor Carrick should be in the lineup then and we will see how he does in his Devils debut. It was a good deal for the Devils, as many thought that they would only get a draft pick for Lovejoy and they, instead, not only got the pick (which they continue to stockpile) but an NHL roster player in the deal as well.
We will have coverage of the Devils-Habs game for you right here on Monday. Again, any comments left below are encouraged and we really appreciate them.