The New York Rangers came away with their first win of the preseason tonight as they defeated the New Jersey Devils by a score of 6-3. Several standout performances from the likes of Brian Gibbons, Jayson Megna, Brady Skjei, Magnus Hellberg, and Antti Raanta made it quite the night at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers came out flying right from the puck drop tonight and caught the Devils napping by hemming them in their own zone early on. The trio of Brian Gibbons, Luke Adam, and Jayson Megna combined for two goals in the opening five minutes, and gave the Rangers a very early 2-0 lead at Madison Square Garden. The first goal of the game came just 1:21 into regulation as Stefan Matteau coughed up a puck in the high slot, and handed it right to Brian Gibbons. Gibbons wasted no time in firing a shot on goal, and wired one over Corey Schneider's shoulder.
A few minutes later, Alain Vigneault tossed the trio right back on the ice, and they converted once again after working the Devils in their own end. Brian Gibbons picked up the his second point of the night by tossing a beautiful centering pass out to Jayson Megna, who tucked the puck under Schneider's pads for the 2-0 lead. While the Rangers were clearly controlling the play early on, the Devils got right back in the game as Ryan Bourque was whistled down for hooking.
Just as the power play was set to expire, Jordan Tootoo slammed home a centering pass from Tyler Kennedy, and beat Antti Raanta through the five hole. The Devils were able to re-energize themselves following the goal, and we had ourselves a game heading into the second half of the first period. Both teams settled down quite a bit following the early goal surge, and we went into the intermission with the Rangers lead the Devils by a score of 2-1.
Unfortunately, the second period didn't start off nearly as entertaining as the first period did. In fact, it started off extremely slow, with the Rangers only putting up five shots during the first half of the period. However, the Rangers were able to hold their own in the defensive end and didn't allow a shot against until the 13 minute mark of the period.
While the start of the period didn't contain much action, the closing five minutes certainly made up for the lack of entertainment. It all started with a undisciplined penalty from Tanner Glass as he exchanged slashes with Jiri Tlusty, and took another minor penalty by going after him. As expected, the Devils wound up scoring on the ensuing power play, and Mike Sislo chipped home his first goal of the preseason.
A little under two minutes after the Devils tied the game, the Rangers scored another pair of goals and jumped out to a 4-2 lead heading into the intermission. The first goal came courtesy of Chris Kreider, who absolutely smoked a snapshot past Yan Danis and finished it off by face planting on the ice after a failed celebration attempt.
Viktor Stalberg followed up with his first of the preseason after he flew down the left wing and caught Danis off guard in his crease. Stalberg made an excellent heads up play to recognize that Danis was down early in his crease, and he tossed a hard, low shot on net that just barely trickled over the goal line.
Much like the second, the third period started off fairly slow in terms of action but picked up quite a bit during the second half. At 14:43, the Rangers were able to take advantage of a beautiful defensive read by Brady Skjei, and broke up ice with numbers. The Devils were able to fight off the odd-man rush, but the puck popped right out to Oscar Lindberg who snapped a shot through traffic, and past Yan Danis to make it 5-2 Rangers.
Shortly after Lindberg's goal, Chris Kreider was sent off for tripping which sent the Devils to the powerplay late in the third period. Adam Larsson eventually beat Magnus Hellberg on a booming point shot, and pulled the Devils back within a pair of goals with just over two minutes remaining. With the Devils searching for a last minute comeback, the Rangers drew two consecutive penalties and setup a 5-on-3 for the final 45 seconds of regulation.
Brian Gibbons and Jayson Megna eventually connected for their second goal of the evening as Gibbons found Megna wide open on the backdoor. Danis didn't stand much of a chance, and Megna banged home the final goal of the game to make it a 6-3 final. The Rangers were able to start off the preaseason with an early win, and Alain Vigneault will have some tough decisions (not a bad thing) to make as the preaseason continues to progress.
The Rangers will be back in action tomorrow night as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.