Zibanejad Nets OT Winner As Rangers Top Devils 4-3
The New York Rangers continued their winning ways this evening, and defeated the New Jersey Devils by a final score of 4-3. The Rangers certainly made this game closer than it needed to be, but in the end, they found a late tying goal and finished it off in overtime. Antti Raanta, despite whiffing on Kyle Palmieri’s tying goal, had a strong game tonight and made two game saving saves in overtime just prior to the winning goal.
Aside from the opening couple of minutes, the Rangers controlled a majority of the period, which resulted in a pair of opening goals. Chris Kreider started the Rangers off with quite a circus-esque goal, after the puck deflected off of two Devils players prior to hitting him, and ended up behind Corey Schneider. While the first one was certainly a fortunate bounce, the second goal, however, was an absolute thing of beauty.
Jesper Fast deserves all of the credit on this goal as he completely froze all five Devils players on the ice with a fake shot, and slipped the puck over to Oscar Lindberg. The fake shot opened up so much space for Lindberg, and once he corralled the puck, he rifled it right under the crossbar.
The late first period goal by Lindberg certainly swung the momentum in the Rangers favor, as they carried their strong play over into the second period. Unfortunately, even with an immense amount of scoring opportunities, Corey Schneider kept the Rangers off the board during the second period.
That paved the way for the Devils to make their push, and with less than two minutes remaining in the period, Adam Henrique cut the lead in half. Henrique was able to get the inside lane of Lindberg coming out from behind the net, and stuffed the puck past Raanta on the wraparound. That goal certainly gave the Devils some life, because they immediately scored a pair of goals to open up the third period.
For whatever reason, the Rangers were a complete mess to start the final frame, and the Devils were able to take full advantage. Kyle Palmieri knotted up the game just 27 seconds in and added yet another goal 47 seconds later. Suddenly, the Rangers were the ones with their backs against the wall, despite having the better of the chances throughout the game.
Thankfully, the Rangers were able to regroup following the two goals and eventually jumped right back into the game. With a little under five minutes remaining in regulation, Adam Clendening unleashed a booming slap shot from just inside the blue line and brought this game back even. Although the Rangers made a late push for the go-ahead goal, they came up empty handed and went to overtime for the third consecutive game.
Unlike the previous two attempts, the Rangers were able to end the game before reaching the shootout. It only took 1:16 as well, with Antti Raanta starting off the sequence with two ridiculous saves on Kyle Palmieri and denied him of the hat trick. Right after the second save, Brady Skjei quickly collected the puck and found Mika Zibanejad breaking through the neutral zone.
The quick outlet pass created a 1-on-1 between Zibanejad and Damon Severson, which ended up creating the game winning goal. Zibanejad’s fake slap shot attempt froze both Severson and Schneider and he finished off the play by slipping the puck through the five hole. For Zibanejad, that’s certainly a way of making a statement and ending a 16 goal drought coming into this game. Hopefully that goal gets him going offensively moving forward, because the Rangers are certainly going to need goals with these games coming down to the wire.
Following tonight’s thrilling win over the Devils, the Rangers will be right back in action tomorrow night as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden.