Well, that was fun. It was a game with many ups and downs as the two teams continued to battle for 60 minutes and progressed the developing revival of the Hudson River rivalry. Once again, the good guys came out on top as the New York Rangers entered the Prudential Center in Newark and beat the Devils 5-3. A special mention to all the Rangers fans that made that sounds like a home game for the Blueshirts.
It started off with the breadman scoring to extend his point streak to 15 straight games. A beautiful pass through the penalty killers from Vincent Trocheck set Artemi Panarin up at the backpost. He finished despite the difficult angle giving the Rangers the lead on the man advantage. Erik Gustafsson gets the other point to continue his sensational season with the Blueshirts.
Then, a somewhat leaky goal comes out of Igor Shesterkin. It might have been rust for the netminder, but Jack Hughes just throws a shot on and it trickles through Igor and in. The whistle blew before the puck crossed the line, but the referees determined that it was a continuation of the original shot and therefore should count. It was 1-1 on a bad goal from the Russian netminder.
Jimmy Vesey would then haunt his former hockey club. Zac Jones, Tyler Pitlick, and Braden Schneider were playing catch before Jones gives Schneider a shooting opportunity. That was saved, but Vesey was there to clean up the loose change and restore the lead for the Rangers. An even-strength goal from the fourth line is a testament to the strong depth this roster has despite the injuries.
However, that did not last long. The Rangers penalty kill would yield to the Devils powerplay late in the first period as Ondrej Palat got his first goal of the season when the Rangers left the former member of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s repeating team all alone in the slot and he made them pay the price. It was 2-2 at the first intermission.
The physicality of the game started to pick up in the second. Ranger captain Jacob Trouba had another massive hit, Trocheck had a big hit on Alexander Holtz, and this game was getting chippy which seemed to favor the Rangers. New York was always going to win the battle of physicality because they’re a stronger club. New Jersey couldn’t minimize the whistles and it nullified their advantages.
In the third though, they would take the lead. Dougie Hamiltonfound Jack Hughes at the far post before the puck rolled off his stick and onto the tape of Erik Haula. He backhands the puck into the roof of the net to give the Devils their first lead of the night a minute into the third period. New York would now need a big member of the team to step up and tie this game up.
Step forward, Artemi Panarin. His tenth goal off the season came off the draw as Trocheck manages to get the puck to the Russian winger, and the red hot breadman was not going to miss. He wired the loose puck over the glove of the Devils netminder to bring the Rangers back to level terms against their opposition.
Zac Jones then found a streaking Trocheck down the ice. His drop pass to Vesey was tapped over to Tyler Pitlick who fired it on, and Vesey again deposited the loose change to make it 4-3 and restore the Rangers lead with less than three minutes left in the game. A defensive collapse by the Devils was capitalized on by the Rangers, and the ruthlessness of the squad would not end there.
Black Wheeler would find the empty net with less than two minutes left to make it a multiple goal lead, and Igor Shesterkin shut the game down. Nothing else beat the Rangers star netminder. He was coming into this game after not playing for about three weeks and did well enough to give the Rangers a chance to win the game. That’s all you can ask out of your goaltender sometimes, and he did that tonight.