The first period of this afternoon's game belonged to the Rangers and after the first twenty minutes of the matinee game at the Garden were in the books. Derek Stepan broke the five period scoring drought the Blueshirts carried into the game when he beat Cory Schneider off of a gorgeous feed from rookie Oscar Lindberg. Before Stepan broke the scoring drought, Derick Brassard had a great chance alone with Schneider, but the puck wouldn't settle down for him after the rebound from his first shot came towards his stick.
Derek Stepan's goal was his third of the young season. Oscar Lindberg was the only player credited with an assist, it was his first of the year and his fifth point in six games with the Rangers as a rookie this season.
In the final minute of the first period Kevin Klein dropped the gloves with Devils' forward Kyle Palmieri. The fighting major was the first of the Rangers' 2015-16 season.
After the first chapter of the game the Rangers led the Devils in shots after putting nine on net against Schneider. The Devils managed to put only six shots on net against Lundqvist in a period that was owned by the Blueshirts.
The Devils hit the post and put four shots in net through the first three minutes and thirty seconds of the second period and broke through when Adam Henrique capitalized on a bad defensive play by Dan Girardi to tie the game. Henrique followed his own shot, getting past a sliding Dan Girardi who watched Henrique drive to the net from his knees, and jammed home the rebound through Lundqvist's pads.
Six minutes into the second period Kevin Hayes nearly gave the Rangers back their lead after stickhandling through the Devils' defense and displaying great hands and patience, but the puck slid harmlessly through the crease after hitting the leg of Damon Severson. Shortly thereafter Kevin Hayes was hit in the numbers behind the Devils net. There was no call on the play.
After Hayes' chance the Rangers got back behind the steering wheel in the game. Stalberg had a great chance off of an odd-man rush with a one-timer and on the next shift the Rangers and Kevin Hayes put a flurry of shots on Schneider after a breakaway chance, but Schneider stood tall and closed the door again and again.
Viktor Stalberg was called for interference, the game's first penalty, in the final four minutes of the second period. Thankfully the Rangers were able to kill off the penalty without any issue. With 30 seconds left in the period a scrum broke out in front of the Rangers' net when the Devils tried to jam another puck through Hank which resulted in a defensive zone faceoff. Jarret Stoll took a bad penalty with just under six seconds left in the period when he tripped Palmieri behind the Rangers' bench. After the second period the shots were even at 17 apiece.
Just 19 seconds into the third period Kevin Klein put the Rangers on a 5 on 3 penalty kill after putting the puck up and over the boards from behind the Rangers' net. The Rangers were able to kill off the huge Devils' chance thanks to some great penalty killing. Fast and the Rangers' penalty killers didn't surrender a single shot on the extended 5 on 3.
Derick Brassard, who had a hell of a game, centered a dangerous pass for Jesper Fast from behind the Devils' net that was just shanked wide thanks to Fast's stick getting tied up by a Devils' defenseman. It seemed like it would require the perfect play and/or shot to beat Schneider after it seemed all too easy to score early on him in the first period.
Just after the halfway point of the third period the Rangers earned their first power play of the game when Jordin Tootoo got his stick up high on Jarret Stoll on a hit in front of the Rangers' bench. The Rangers put just one shot on net on a seriously disappointing power play that failed to get anything going. Rick Nash earned the Rangers another power play shortly thereafter when he went down easily after Lee Stempniak put a stick into his side with under seven minutes left in regulation. The Rangers again failed to beat Schneider on the power play, but did manage to get three shots on goal in their second man advantage. Those missed chances would soon haunt the Rangers.
With 2:27 left in regulation the Rangers nearly got one past Schneider thanks to a fortuitous bounce. Chris Kreider flew up the left wing boards and ripped a shot on net that Schneider sent to the end boards. The puck took a dangerous bounce back towards goal, but Schneider squeezed his pads when the Rangers came to try and jam it home.
Dan Girardi lost his footing after hitting a rut while chasing down a puck in the Rangers' defensive zone and went hard into the boards. Girardi stayed on the ice and was wincing in pain on the bench. It was a close call for the Rangers' ironman defenseman who had yet another rocky game.
The shots were 25 to 22 in favor of the Rangers after regulation, but we needed to see sudden death overtime to settle this one. It was the first Rangers' 3 on 3 overtime of the regular season. Stepan, McDonagh, and Nash took to the ice for the Rangers at the beginning of overtime. On their first rush they missed by inches when a sure goal was spoiled by a brilliant defensive play and second effort by Andy Greene who may have robbed Nash of his first goal of the season, although McDonagh might have been the last Ranger to get his stick on the puck.
With 2:35 left in sudden death Henrik Lundqvist absolutely stonewalled Palmieri who was set up by the Devils' captain Andy Greene with the best save of the game. With 2:01 left in overtime Stepan rang a shot off the post and the Devils went the other way on the rush for what was to be the game-winning goal. Andy Greene hit Adam Henrique with a breakout pass and he moved the puck over to former Ranger Lee Stempniak who rifled a one-timer past Lundqvist for the Devils first win of the season. The Rangers out-shot the Devils 27 to 24 and came within inches of goals at least three times in the game, but the only chances that matter are the ones that end up on the scoreboard.
The Rangers are now 3-2-1 on the season and have scored two goals in their last three games.
Tomorrow night the Rangers will face the San Jose Sharks at the Garden. The Islanders put the hurt on the Sharks last night in a 6-3 victory in Brooklyn. Antti Raanta is the projected starting goaltender tomorrow night against the Sharks at the 7 PM start. If Raanta gets the nod it will be his first appearance in the regular season as a New York Ranger.
Thanks for reading. Thoughts?