The New York Rangers won their 35th game of the season in workmanlike fashion, beating the New Jersey Devils 3-1. Although they ended the first period tied 1-1, the Rangers scored a goal in each of the last two periods and kept the Devils off the scoreboard. Oh yes, Igor Shesterkin was a his usual self, frustrating New Jersey with several brilliant saves.
Gerard Gallant was perturbed with the Rangers’ reliance on Shesterkin saying “He’s unbelievable, how many grade A chances did they get? Grade A chances, breakaways…he’s unbelievable, too many nights.”
He tempered that a bit, saying “I’m overexaggerating. It’s not that often, but it’s more times than I like…They’re (the Devils) a good team, some of their chances were created by ourselves. I didn’t like the way we played in the neutral zone…I just thought we could have been better in a lot of areas.”
Jacob Trouba talked about it as well. “He’s been great, continues to be great, obviously we’d like to rely on him less, but whenever we’ve needed him he’s done that, all year it seems.”
The Devils are one of the teams that start fast and the Rangers were ready with Mika Zibanejad just missing 13 seconds into the game. The Rangers had the first seven shot attempts in the game within the first three minutes. Their momentum was stopped when Artemi Panarin was called for a marginal cross check in the offensive zone.
Shesterkin had to be absolutely brilliant on the PK stopping Nico Hischier twice on a breakaway. His first stop was excellent, but he was even better on the rebound attempt by Hischier.
A minute and a half after the Rangers killed the penalty, it was Zibanejad again, though this time he wasn’t stopped, putting in the rebound of a shot by Jacob Trouba.
It looked like the Rangers were on their way, but the rink tilted in the Devils’ favor and after a couple minutes of sustained pressure, it was Hischier who put the puck past Shesterkin. Zibanejad was guilty of a neutral zone giveaway and the Devil broke through Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren for the semi-break.
Just over a minute later the Blueshirts tempted fate as Ryan Reaves interfered with Devils goalie Nico Daws and the Rangers had to kill another penalty. The Rangers had the best scoring chance shorthanded when Jonny Brodzinski broke in on a two-on-one with Barclay Goodrow, but Goodrow’s shot was smothered by Daws.
Both coaches must have dressed down their squads as the second period was much tighter with both teams playing a disciplined game. The Rangers had their first power early in the period, but could never get set up. Ryan Strome was guilty of two risky passes that resulted in Devils clearing the puck.
The Rangers got on the board when Ryan Lindgren intercepted the puck and broke into the offensive zone and laid a drop pass to Filip Chytil who rifled the puck past Daws.
Daws probably should have had it.
The period ended with a fight between Barclay Goodrow and P.K.Subban.
The third period was pretty much all Rangers as they controlled play with Chris Kreider adding to the lead with an absolute laser of a one-timer with just under nine minutes left.
It came off a pass from Zibanejad who had been sprung by a great pass from Adam Fox in the Rangers’ zone.
The goal was a relief for the Blueshirts, giving them a two goal cushion in a very close game. They had a crucial penalty kill early on when Strome slashed Jesper Bratt, retaliating for a slash he took from different player. It was an unnecessary penalty to take at a key time.
To add more misery to a pretty mediocre game by Strome, he missed an open net on a two-on-one break with Jonny Brodzinski right after the penalty expired. The puck was rolling, but it was a gaping, open net.
The Devils took a penalty late and had to play two of the last four minutes shorthanded.
It was Subban again with the leg, another dangerous play.
The Devils were finally able to pull Daws, but couldn’t get a puck past Shesterkin who was added by blocks by Lindgren and Brodzinski.
Here is a five minute recap of the game.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but it was enough for the Blueshirts to depart on a four-game road trip with a win.
Gallant put it best. “We looked flat at times and then we looked good at times. I hate to critique a win. I know we can be better than that and Shesty was outsanding.”