The New York Rangers had a tough outing tonight against the New Jersey Devils, and were defeated 5-2 in the final meeting of the season between these two teams. The Rangers had a tremendous start following the opening faceoff, and constantly pressured the Devils in the offensive zone with a strong forecheck. Unfortunately, they weren't able to generate many high quality scoring chances, and allowed the Devils to survive the early attack.
As a result, just four minutes into regulation, Tyler Kennedy got the Devils on the board and they took an early lead after a sluggish start. Damon Severson's point shot wound up getting deflected on it's way towards the net by Kennedy, and Henrik Lundqvist was unable to adjust in time. Following the early goal, the Rangers finally woke back up and scored twice within a matter of 45 seconds, and grabbed back the lead.
The first goal came courtesy of Kevin Hayes, who tapped home a rebound generated from Viktor Stalberg after flying down the right side of the ice. Corey Schneider kicked the rebound right out to Hayes driving towards the net, and that evened up the game at one. A few moments after that, Keith Yandle make an excellent play at the blue line, and set up Dominic Moore driving the net.
The pass wound up deflecting off of Moore's skate, and flipped over Scneider's shoulder to give the Rangers their first lead of the evening. At the end of the first period, the Rangers controlled a majority of the play and looked to carry their strong play over into the second period. However, that wound up working against the Rangers, and the Devils absolutely demolished them during the middle frame.
About halfway through the period, Kyle Palmieri was left all alone in front of the net, and he slammed home a centering pass from Joseph Blandisi. With both Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi stuck down low, Palmieri slipped in undetected and evened up at the game at two. Nearing the end of the period, the Devils struck again with Lee Stempniak giving them their second lead of the night.
The Rangers were clearly angry with their performance during the second period, and J.T. Miller took it upon himself to create a spark. After a routine collision with Sergei Kalinin, Miller dropped the gloves and he and Kalinin exchanged some punches. Once the fight was broken up, the Rangers caught a horrible break after Miller was ejected from the game.
According to the rule book, you cannot have tape below your wrist while engaged in a fight, and it is an automatic ejection if the opposing player is cut or injured. Kalinin apparently had a small cut on the bridge of his nose, and as a result, the Devils were gifted a five minute power play. Luckily, the Rangers were able to kill it off rather convincingly and held the Devils to just a single shot on goal.
Being up a goal in the third period, the Devils went into full defensive mode, as usual, and made it difficult for the Rangers coming through the neutral zone. The Rangers weren't able to generate much of anything, and were faced with a tough task late in the third period. After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Dan Boyle went to keep the puck in the zone, but wasn't able to get a handle on the puck.
As a result, Sergei Kalinin broke in all alone on Henrik Lundqvist, and chipped the puck over Lundqvist's shoulder to make it a 4-2 game. The Rangers attempted to pull the goaltender while looking to get back in the game, but Adam Larsson sealed the game with an empty net goal a few moments later. The Rangers will have a lot to correct before they meet up with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday evening.