It certainly wasn’t easy by any means, but the New York Rangers completed the four-game sweep over the New Jersey Devils this afternoon. The Rangers jumped out to another 3-0 lead in this game, but that quickly evaporated in the third period with a pair of New Jersey goals. Mika Zibanejad was able to save the day late in the third period, however, with a clutch goal on the power play.
Chris Kreider (19) - Mika Zibanejad (23) & Artemiy Panarin (35) PPG - 6:31
New York had a slow start compared to the previous three outings, but that didn’t stop them from opening the scoring early in the first period. Jacob Trouba sent the Rangers on the power play after a booming hit on Andreas Johnsson, and that wound up drawing a roughing penalty on Nico Hischier.
A little over a minute into the man-advantage, the Rangers absolutely carved up the Devils with crisp passing all around the offensive zone. That eventually led to Mika Zibanejad setting up Chris Kreider all alone at the top of the crease, and CK20 tapped home his second goal in as many games.
Vitali Kravtsov (1) - Brett Howden (5) - 14:03
About four minutes past the halfway mark of the first period, the Rangers doubled up their lead courtesy of Vitali Kravtsov. Kravtsov started the play with tremendous pressure below the circles and forced the Devils into a tough situation. As a result, Jonas Siegenthaler tossed a blind pass through the middle of the ice, and it was picked off by Brett Howden. Kravtsov read the play perfectly and opened up for a shot as he swung around the net, and buried the accurate pass from Howden. After having his original goal waived off last Thursday, Kravtsov finally got his revenge on the Devils and “officially” registered his first NHL goal.
Alexis Lafrenière (8) - Filip Chytil (10) & Kaapo Kakko (7) - 5:17
Despite the Devils having the edge in play coming into the second period, it would be the Rangers making the most of their opportunities. The Kid Line trio of Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kappo all played a large part in putting the Rangers up 3-0 at the 5:17 mark of the second period.
Filip Chytil started the play off with an impressive skate-to-stick play to collect the puck, and found Lafrenière cutting through the middle of the ice. Lafrenière also had to collect the puck in his skates, kicked it to his stick and beat Mackenzie Blackwood through the legs. Matt Tennyson absolutely blasted Lafrenière after the puck entered the back of the net, and chaos ensued behind the Devils’ net.
Mikhail Maltsev (5) - Yegor Sharangovich (10) & P.K. Subban (14) - 18:55
New Jersey was skating hard throughout most of the second period, and they finally got on the board with a little over a minute remaining in the period. P.K. Subban’s shot from the right point gave Alexandar Georgiev some trouble and the loose puck landed at the top of the crease. Mikhail Maltsev was in perfect position to jump on the rebound and slammed home his fifth of the season to make it a 3-1 game heading into the first intermission.
Marian Studenic (1) - Mikhail Maltsev (5) & Andreas Johnsson (6) - 1:53
The Devils were able to carry over some of that late momentum, and they cut the Rangers’ lead to a single goal early in the third period. New Jersey caught the Rangers napping at their own blue line, and Andreas Johnsson was able to thread a pass through the middle of the ice. Marian Studenic was able to jump the lane after a favorable bounce and broke in on a partial breakaway. Studenic was able to quickly snap a shot in stride and beat Alexandar Georgiev over the blocker hand.
Nico Hischier (3) - Nick Merkley (5) & Nolan Foote (1) - 5:30
With the Devils completely shifting the game in their favor, it was only a matter of time before they located the game-tying goal. All four Rangers in the corner were unable to win a puck battle, and the puck popped out to Nick Merkley in the high slot. Rather than shooting, Merkley rotated and found Nico Hischier cutting into a shooting lane. Hischier didn’t get everything behind the shot, but it was enough to push it over the goal line and tie up the game at three apiece.
Mika Zibanejad (16) - Ryan Strome (30) & Adam Fox (36) PPG - 17:00
The Rangers needed something to spark their play, and a power play late in the third period was just what they needed. It took the Rangers a while to get setup in the offensive zone, but once they did, the puck never left their possession. After cycling the puck around the perimeter, Ryan Strome found a gap in coverage and sent the puck to Mika Zibanejad in the high slot. Zibanejad hesitated for an extra second before absolutely wiring a snap shot under the crossbar to put New York back out in front.
Ryan Strome (14) - Colin Blackwell (10) & Artemiy Panarin (36) ENG - 19:35
In nearly identical fashion compared to yesterday, the ending of this game came down to the final minute or two. Thankfully, the Rangers did an excellent job with their defensive zone coverage, and eventually worked the puck out of the zone. Ryan Strome was able to transition the puck up the ice and seal the game with an empty net goal at the 19:35 mark.
This game felt almost identical to yesterday with the Rangers jumping out to an early lead, only to find it completely gone come the third period. However, the Rangers big guns stepped up once again late in the third period, and they completed the four-game sweep over the Devils. Unfortunately, even with the Rangers dominance over the Devils, they still remain four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot.
Following another huge win, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before returning to action on Tuesday against the New York Islanders.