The New York Rangers returned from a week long hiatus after the All-Star break and started off with a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Special teams absolutely killed the Rangers all game long and played a large part in the one-goal loss this evening. The power play tossed up a goose egg after going scoreless on four opportunities, while the penalty kill was scored on both times they were put to work.
Aside from that though, the Rangers had a relatively decent game at even strength, but Corey Schneider stood on his head right from the beginning. However, despite Schneider's strong play, it was the Rangers who were able to break through with the first goal of the night. J.T. Miller, who has been on absolutely tear as of late, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead after receiving a beautiful centering pass from Derick Brassard.
The Rangers were able to carry that one goal lead over into the second period, but that would only last for a little over a minute. Lee Stempniak, the ex-Ranger was able to put the Devils even at 1:34 of the second period and slammed home a rebound after a bomb of a shot from Eric Gelinas. A big-time defensive mishap by the Rangers left Stempniak all along in front of Henrik Lundqvist, and he had all day to swat away at the loose puck.
Alain Vigneault wound up challenging the goal for potential goaltender interference, but after a quick review, the goal was confirmed. Heading into the third period, the Rangers looked for a better start in the opening minutes and they wound up getting just that. Just two minutes into the final frame, J.T. Miller converted on his second of the game off to the right side of the face-off circle. Keith Yandle started it all off with a ridiculous no-look feed over to Miller, who then rifled a one-timer past Corey Schneider on the short side.
That goal was huge in terms of giving the Rangers early momentum in the third period, but unfortunately, that would all come crashing to the ground. A little over a minute after the Rangers scored, Joseph Blandisi evened up the game once again after blowing by Dan Girardi down the wing. Henrik Lundqvist probably should have made the save, but regardless, Girardi can't get beat that badly down the outside.
Moments later, things went from bad to worse with Oscar Lindberg heading off for interfering with Jacob Josefson in the defensive zone. Just as the penalty was set to expire, David Schlemko corralled a loose puck right inside the hash marks, and ripped a hard shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Devils their first lead of the night. After a late push by the Rangers in the Devils end, they were unable to find the tying goal with the goaltender pulled and fell by a final score of 3-2.
It was certainly disappointing return for the Rangers, and this could have easily been a blowout if the Rangers had capitalized on their opportunities. The Rangers will have another opportunity to get back in the win column on Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Wild at Madison Square Garden.