Dive into the exhilarating saga of the Rangers’ redemption quest! Witness their journey from playoff heartache to a stunning 5-3 victory over the Devils.
Whenever I would mention the New York Rangers hot start under head coach Peter Laviolette in hockey circles, the response would be,” Yeah, but can they beat the Devils ?” News flash: On Saturday, they did.
Yes, the Blueshirts defeating the Devils 5-3 at a blue-clad Prudential Center is one regular season game in November. It doesn’t erase the sting of last year’s playoff defeat. Yes, both teams were missing star players. The Blueshirts were without defenseman Adam Fox and center Filip Chytil. The Devils down captain Nico Hischier and forward Timo Meier. However, if the tilt proved anything, what happened then doesn’t matter now. It’s a new year, and the Rangers are taking advantage of their opportunity for redemption.
At 12-2-1, they’re in first place in the Metropolitan Division, have collected points in 11 straight games, and have won nine of ten.
From Playoff Pain to Prudential Triumph: Rangers’ Redemption Tour Hits Full Stride:
Nobody has seized the moment more than Artemi Panarin. The winger being a no-show in the postseason hit him hard. Since then, he’s attacked this season with a vengeance.
The breadman set the tone with a record-breaking power play tally, finishing a feed from Vincent Trochcek for a 1-0 Rangers lead. It extended his point streak to 15 games, the most by a Blueshirt to start a season, leapfrogging Rod Gilbert. He also became the
the fourth undrafted player in the previous 30 years to record a point streak of 15+ games, joining Adam Oates (20 G in 1996-97), Pascal Dupuis (17 GP in 2011-12), and Wayne Gretzky (15 GP in 1996-97).
Just 48 seconds after Panarin’s first goal, Jack Hughes scored, swiftly knotting the game at 1-1. Returning after a five-game absence, Hughes wasted no time making his presence felt.
It was a tough break for Igor Shesterkin – he seemed to have that wrist shot under control, but it slipped through, resulting in an unexpected goal for the Devils.
Shesterkin, returning after missing four games, showed a hint of rust with that uncharacteristic sofie. However, Jimmy Vesey had his back, reclaiming the lead less than five minutes later off a Braden Schneider rebound.
Trocheck’s late cross-checking penalty gave the Devils a chance on the power play, and Ondrej Palat capitalized, beating Shesterkin in the final minute of the opening frame. It was again another one Shesterkin would want back. He got a piece of the shot but didn’t get his left pad down to stop it.
Erik Haula’s third-period goal gave New Jersey a 3-2 lead. Devils fans taunted Shesterkin with sarcastic “Igor” chants. They were quickly silenced. He stopped Tyler Toffoli in front, then denied Jesper Bratt on a breakaway to keep his team in it. He would finish the night with 30 saves on 33 shots.
His efforts were rewarded when Panarin stepped up again with his 26th point of the season. He tied the game with 8:56 left, beating Vitek Vanecek from the right circle following a faceoff scuffle involving Trocheck and Haula. His 10th tally tied him with Chris Kreider for the team lead, setting the stage for some late-game heroics.
Enter Vesey, who embraced the role of hero with his second goal of the night. Positioned perfectly for a rebound off Tyler Pitlick’s shot, the former Devil produced a spinning backhand, giving New York a 4-3 lead with 2:49 left. The Vesey-Barclay Goodrow and Pitlick trio were benched for the third period of Sunday’s 4-3 shootout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here, they had two of the Rangers’ three five-on-five goals. “They were really good tonight,” Laviolette said. “They found themselves in the offensive zone, generating, and were heavy in the battles. “That’s what you want from them.”
They would’ve been considered the best of New York’s four units if not for the Panarin-Trochcek-Alexis Lafreniere line. They outshot the Devils 14-7 when on the ice. Trocheck’s two assists gave him ten points in the last five games. Schneider and Zac Jones stood out defensively, even receiving ice time late in the third period. It was Schneider who guarded Jack Hughes moments before a Ryan Lindgren block on Palat led to a Blake Wheeler empty net goal, sealing the deal.
When the horn sounded, the Rangers moved to 1-0 in the Hudson River Rivalry with Laviolette and his 1-3-1 neutral zone trap at the helm instead of Gerard Gallant. It marked the Blueshirts’ fourth third-period comeback, a frame they’ve outscored opponents 18-10 this season.
The final minute inside the “Pebble,” as some Rangers fans call it, sounded similar to a Blueshirts victory in Manhattan. As it should be, because it’s a new year. The rivalry has been renewed. Your move, Jersey.