It didn’t come easy Tuesday night in New Jersey, but the New York Rangers knocked off the Devils and clinched the best record in the National Hockey League.
From the get-go we realized this wouldn’t be a game that would pass with ease.
The New Jersey Devils came out with an attitude which at times bordered on stupidity.
3 Stars of the Game:
- Kevin Hayes (NYR) – 1 Goal, 2 Assists
- Steve Bernier (NJD) – 1 Goal, 1 Assist
- Andy Greene (NJD)
Some would call it being a purposeful nuisance against your arch-rivals as they head potentially head into the playoffs with the Presidents’ Trophy (best record in NHL). Others would call it sheer idiocy.
Whatever you’d like to call it, Lou Lamoriello’s crew was playing with an obvious chip on their shoulder.
Eyes On Isles
The two guys who stood out most in the roughhousing department were Eric Gelinas and Jordin Tootoo. On multiple occasions Tootoo used the crosscheck to garner the attention of several New York Rangers.
At one point he acted as though there was no hockey game. After a clean hit by Matt Hunwick, Tootoo chased Hunwick around in attempt to bait a fight.
In fact, by the time the third period hit, New Jersey had committed seven-minor penalties to the Rangers two.
Regardless, the Rangers only sported a 2-1 lead after two period of play as the first three-goals of the game were scored in the first period.
Impressive youngster Kevin Hayes (16) got the party started 13:45 into the game as he wristed one past Corey Schneider after finding the puck out in front all by himself. Then, only 47-seconds later, captain Ryan McDonagh (8) capitalized on the power-play with two bodies in front of the net (assisted by Keith Yandle and Hayes).
However, as the story of the game turned up, every time the Rangers enjoyed a two-goal lead, the Devils fought back.
Towards the end of the first period, Patrik Elias collected his 12th goal of the season while New Jersey was on the power-play.
After a scoreless, and ridiculous period No. 2 that featured some bully-play from the Devils side, the final frame brought us some actual hockey. Whatever Lamoriello or the referees said to New Jersey prior to the third period worked because the Devils started skating and actually focused on putting the puck in the net.
The first half of the third was clean stretch. Then, the fourth line of the Rangers found gold as the recently inserted James Sheppard (7) tipped-in the puck after a fabulous play made by Dominic Moore.
Again though, New Jersey fought back as Steve Bernier (14) responded thanks to a Derrick Brassard turnover under a minute later.
In the end though, Cam Talbot proved to be too sharp for the lackluster offensive effort the Devils through at them (17 saves). Carl Hagelin (17) put the game away with an empty-netter with just over a minute to go.
Through it all, New York succeeded in not buying into the Devils nonsense and captured their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1994.
They will now enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the lead horse – a much different feeling than Rangers fans have been used to recently with this group.
- Henrik Lundqvist did not dress as he was given the night off completely
- Mats Zuccarello also didn’t dress (overall body soreness)
- This marks the 52nd win of the season which ties a franchise record (1994)
- 111 current points is just one shy of franchise record (112 in 1994)
- Rangers went 1 for 7 on the Power Play
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- Rangers’ Playoff Redemption Recipe: Grit and Fresh Hopes
- Rangers’ Roster Chatter: Who’s Making the Cut and Who’s in the Penalty Box?
- Jacque Plante Trade Tree Between the Rangers and Canadiens
- These Rangers must learn Peter Laviolette’s ropes before they can fly