New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils in first half of crucial back-to-back

Mar 11, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) follows through
Mar 11, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) follows through / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A good defensive display sees the New York Rangers overcome the New Jersey Devils by a 3-1 score line at Madison Square Garden. With this game in the books, the team will move south to take on one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and a team that just went nuts at the deadline to bolster their attempts at winning the Stanley Cup, but we have a game against the Devils to talk about first.

New York started well offensively when Alexis Lafreniere was able to burst into the offensive zone. He spun around at the top of the left circle and was looking for help. He found that in the form of Artemi Panarin who was cruising through the high slot. Lafreniere put the puck on the tape of the Russian star and Panarin put it home to break the ice at the Garden. New Jersey challenged the play for offside, cutting the celebrations short. The referees determined that it was offside.

Eventually, the Rangers would break the ice for real in the second period. The puck was put in deep by Roslovic who was able to pressure the Devils on the forecheck. He forced the Devils to turn the puck over to Chris Kreider who found Mika Zibanejad out in front. The Swede cut away from the net before putting it home on the backhand to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead that would stand the test of time. His first 5-on-5 goal since December 23, and it's all good in New York.

With less than a minute to go in the period, Jimmy Vesey sent it back to Chad Ruhwedel at the point. Ruhwedel would get the puck across the blueline to Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson would fire the puck with several bodies in front including Barclay Goodrow and Matt Rempe, and the puck was able to find its way into the corner of the net off a Devil in front. 2-0 Rangers in the second period to put the Blueshirts in complete control.

In the third, the Rangers would do a good job shutting it down until the Devils pulled goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. During the 6-on-5, Simon Nemec was able to fire the puck from the point and it beat everything on its way through and into the net. Jonathan Quick never saw it as the Devils break up the Rangers shutout bid and cut the lead in half.

However, the Rangers would not crack again as Vincent Trocheck was able to hit the empty net, restoring the two goal Ranger lead. They would hold on for the two points, and shift the focus to tomorrow night down in Carolina. A good defensive display tonight is good practice for what lies ahead in Raleigh as two of the best teams in the NHL will have sparks flying tomorrow night.