This afternoon marked the first time an outdoor hockey game was played on the historic infield of Yankee Stadium. After all of the moments and records that were set in the coveted ballpark, it was time for the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils to take center stage and kick off the Stadium Series in the Bronx.
The atmosphere was building and things were tense as both teams took the ice and awaited for puck drop. The 12:30 start time was delayed for a little over an hour, 68 minutes to be exact. Some routines were a little out of sync but that is to be expected in certain circumstances. The game finally started and both teams seemed to be feeling the ice out and trying to battle for some space. The game had a good pace to it however and that translated into five goals total being scored in the opening stanza. The first goal was scored by Patrik Elias, who got a great feed from former Ranger Ryane Clowe, and Elias wasted no time as he finished blocker side past goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. About four minutes later, Anton Stralman took a slap-shot from the point, which was blocked and dropped right on the stick of Dominic Moore, as he finished past Martin Brodeur to tie the game at one. Derick Brassard then took a penalty for tripping Stephen Gionta, and the Devils converted on their power play chance as Elias got his second goal of the game off of a terrific pass from legend Jaromir Jagr. With four minutes left in the period, Lundqvist got caught out of position and the puck slid over to Travis Zajac, who had a yawning net, and he made the game 3-1. Shortly after though the Rangers responded, as Marc Staal‘s shot somehow slid through the pads of Brodeur, and the game was now 3-2. Late in the period defenseman Mark Fayne was sent to the box for holding, so the Rangers would start the second period on the power play with a chance to tie the game once again. The first period set a record for most goals scored in a single period of any outdoor game since records were kept. Shots were 10-10.
In the second period it was the Rangers’ turn to do the goal-scoring. As the teams returned to the ice a light snow had begun to fall on the picturesque scene. About three minutes in, shortly after New York’s man-advantage expired, Mats Zuccarello scored off a two-on-one break to tie the game at three. Then Zuccarello scored again to make the game 4-3 on a three-on-one break, giving his team their first lead of the afternoon. A minute after Zuccarello’s go-ahead goal, Carl Hagelin spun around and threw a shot on net which deflected off of a Devils’ defenseman and went past Brodeur, making the game 5-3 and giving the Rangers a huge momentum swing. In a game where New Jersey once led 3-1 and had a stranglehold, the Rangers fought back and took complete control. The scoring didn’t end there though, as the Rangers had another odd-man rush and they cashed in, Rick Nash continued his hot streak and got a lucky bounce off of Fayne’s stick and the puck slid through the five-hole of Brodeur. The Rangers led 6-3 heading into the third and led the second period in shots 11-7.
Cory Schneider replaced Brodeur in net for the final period. Brodeur allowed five goals by the Rangers for the first time in his career and the Rangers upped that to six. In the third period the Rangers clamped down and played sound defensively to prevent the Devils from getting anything going offensively. To make matters worse for New Jersey, Zajac was pulling and tugging on Derek Stepan‘s arm as he was breaking in on Cory Schneider. The referee awarded a penalty shot and Stepan converted as he sniped the Devils’ net-minder stick side to give New York a 7-3 lead. After this goal the Rangers were able to cruise to the end and pick up two hard-earned points. Shots in the period were 5-5.
After going down 3-1, the Rangers showed tremendous amounts of adversity and battle level to fight back. After taking a 4-3 lead, this is where the team really picked up momentum and they were able to take full control of the game. The Devils never really stood a chance after giving up their two-goal lead.
The two-game losing streak is now over; the Rangers now have some breathing room in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference. Their next game is Wednesday night against the New York Islanders, which will be another outdoor game under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium.
3: Anton Stralman
Personal three stars: