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Rangers vs. Devils preseason recap: J.T. Miller impresses again as New York falls in opener

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The Rangers mounted a comeback in the third period but a late goal against doomed them in their preseason opener against the Devils.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Henrik Lundqvist conceded two goals, and Cam Talbot allowed three—including the game-winner—as the Rangers fell in their preseason opener against the Devils 5-4.

New Jersey didn't wait long to take the lead in Madison Square Garden, scoring 59 ticks into regulation when Adam Henrique deflected home a centering pass behind Lundqvist. The Devils ended up scoring on its first two shots of the night as Michael Ryder added a goal on another deflection a few minutes later to push it to a 2-0 game.

The Rangers would battle back in the first, and cut the deficit in half on the stick of Carl Hagelin. J.T. Miller picked up the lone assist on Hagelin's goal as he fed the speedster in stride before Hagelin managed to sneak a soft goal past Scott Clemmensen.

Drawing a penalty later in the period, the Rangers managed to find an equalizer on the man-advantage. Dan Boyle made a strong play to hold the puck in at the blue line, and then Martin St. Louis worked the puck down the wall. As it got to Chris Mueller, the new Rangers forward quickly shuffled it to Miller, who worked a 2-on-1 down low to perfection with Ryan Malone, as he hit his new teammate on the tape, and Malone banged home a one-timer to make it 2-2.

The teams remained tied through the first half of the second period, and then both teams swapped out their goalies. Talbot fared better than Lundqvist on the opening shots he saw, but New Jersey took the lead late in the middle frame when Ryder again connected on a deflection for his second of the night, and a 3-2 Devils lead.

New Jersey pushed its lead back to two goals in the third period on a 5-on-3 power play, when Eric Gelinas unleashed a bomb from the point that got through everyone to make it a 4-2 game.

No one told the Rangers it was the preseason though, as the team mounted a furious third period comeback to draw the game even. It began with Danny Kristo flinging a home run pass in the direction of Chris Kreider, with Kreider using his wheels to win a race, and then his quick release to fire one past Keith Kinkaid to make it 4-3.

With only 2:30 remaining, Tanner Glass was able to find Jesper Fast all alone in front, and Fast unleashed a slap shot from in tight that rang off the bar and in to knot the score at four.

The tie game and prayers of overtime were squashed by Henrique, who used Steven Kampfer as a screen with just under a minute to play in regulation, and managed to beat Talbot over the shoulder for the game's final goal.

The five goals are a lot to allow in a game, and the Rangers struggled defensively at times. The pairing of Marc Staal and Boyle got their first experience skating together against non-Rangers competition, and Boyle showed some of that poise he's known for. He also got plenty of time on the Rangers power play, and what he provided from the point immediately looked like an upgrade.

Among those who impressed, Miller is quickly changing camps from "hoping to earn a spot" to "will undoubtedly be on the team come opening night." His vision was on full display with his two assists, and he made a number of other passes to put his teammates in scoring positions. He looked very good skating with Hagelin, and Hagelin, who had a strong postseason, continued to use his speed to influence the game in different ways. That's a definite holdover from the playoffs.

Two other players that were noticeable were Malone and Mueller. The former scored a goal, and really just always seemed be around the net, and in the right place. Mueller made a nice play and picked up a secondary assist on the Rangers second goal, and was active in all three zones all night.

The Rangers preseason schedule continues when the team travels to Chicago this Friday to take on the Blackhawks.