It might just be preseason and the Rangers might have been icing a weaker squad than the Devils (only seven regulars in the lineup total), but it always feels sweet. The Devils beat the Rangers 4-2 at Prudential Center tonight for their third win in the warmup to the 2019-20 season.
To begin with, the Devils had some big guns back in the lineup. Taylor Hall saw his first action since December of 2018 – he played on a line with Jack Hughes and Kyle Palmieri. Wayne Simmonds made his Devils debut in addition. Although Hughes was in the lineup for New Jersey, Kaapo Kakko was not for the Rangers, so their first head-to-head meeting will have to wait for the regular season.
And it was Hughes who got things kicked off for us just 34 seconds into the game. PK Subban helped force a Rangers turnover and Hall picked the puck up. He headmanned it to Hughes who cut in all alone in the New York zone. Hughes got in behind the Rangers defense, who got caught in a change and zoned in on Henrik Lundqvist. He shot five-hole and beat the Ranger goalie to make it 1-0 Devils.
At 11:04 of the first, New York’s Ryan Strome was called for delay of game trying to clear the puck accidently over the glass. This put the Devils on the power play and Hall would capitalize. Hughes made a nice feed to him at the circle and he wristed one over Lundqvist’s glove side to make it 2-0. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist on the goal, which came at 11:55.
The power play looked especially good for the Devils, even though they ended up only 1-for-7. They tallied ten shots. The Rangers went 1-for-3 with a single shot (on which they scored).
Simmonds made his mark early, getting into a scrap with Ryan Lindgren at 14:07 of the first. He also drew an extra two on that one for a cross-check, but that was killed off by the Devils.
Before the end of the first, Blake Coleman would make it 3-0 Devils. New Jersey created a turnover on the forecheck and Travis Zajac got the puck to Coleman, who had just jumped on the ice and was trailing the play. He shot and beat Lundqvist to triple the Devils’ lead. The goal came at the 18:00 mark of the first.
But the Rangers would grab one back in the second when Brett Howden won a faceoff deep in the Devils’ zone. Pavel Buchnevich got the puck to Mackenzie Blackwood in net and Vladislav Namestnikov grabbed the rebound and scored to make it 3-1 just 3:49 into the middle frame.
After this goal, the Rangers pulled Lundqvist in favor of Adam Huska. Blackwood played the whole game for the Devils. He was mostly sharp and got some help from both posts early in the third period when New York’s Vinni Lettieri clanged the puck off of both pipes on a shot that beat Blackwood clean.
Michael McLeod would restore the Devils’ three goal lead when, late in the second, he was sprung by Subban, cut in on the New York net and beat Huska five-hole. That goal came at 13:59 of the second and made it 4-1 Devils.
The Devils had a 5-on-3 power play early in the first when Michael Haley was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and Joey Keane shot the puck over the glass, resulting in a delay of game penalty. Huska held fort for New York at that point and the Rangers killed it off.
There was a lengthy delay midway through the third period when a pane of glass behind the Rangers’ net was broken and needed to be fixed by the maintenance crew.
Once we got back to action, McLeod was called for interference at 14:39 and the Rangers were on the power play. Howden took advantage of this one when he redirected a Joe Morrow shot by Blackwood. This cut the Devils’ lead in half to 4-2, which would be our final.
For the second time this preseason, Jack Hughes was named the game’s number one star. He was also the first star in Monday’s home game against Boston.
The Devils outshot the Rangers 40-23. Blackwood made 21 saves while the Rangers’ goaltenders combined for 36.
The Devils also won 57-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but were outhit 27-17. New York also had more blocked shots at 13 to the Devils’ eight and New Jersey had 11 giveaways to the Rangers’ three.
Subban led all New Jersey skaters with 23:06 of ice time. Hall led the forwards with 18:08. Zajac, Coleman, Palmieri, McLeod, Brandon Gignac, Marian Studenic, Matt Tennyson, Dakota Mermis, Josh Jackobs and Subban were all a plus-1. Subban was a force, leading in shots on goal with six and hits with three. Andy Greene had two blocked shots and Joey Anderson, Simmonds, Zajac, Coleman, Ben Street, Gignac, Hughes, Greene, Tennyson and Jacobs all had a takeaway.
Next up, the Devils will remain home to take on the Islanders in further preseason action tomorrow. I will actually be attending this game, but I will try to get something up later in the evening.