The New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in the shootout at MSG. For a box score, click here.
Throughout an 82 game season, there are nights a team deserves to win and there are nights a team doesn’t. Tonight’s game was probably in the latter category. I know the team was playing their 5th game in 8 nights but every team has a tough schedule so it shouldn’t be an excuse. That said, everyone but Rick Nash looked like a team that was on their 5th game in 8 nights. (Nash was flying and honestly should have had a hat trick of highlight reel goals.)
The first goal of the game was nothing but a fluky bounce. P.A. Parenteau hit the post squarely with a shot on the power play. The puck bounced into the blue paint and Lundqvist lied down trying to cover it. Instead his blocker knocked it into the net. It happens. He does that play every game and maybe once or twice a year it backfires. Nothing anyone could do but try to get the goal back.
Fortunately that was early in the second as it took 24 minutes for the Rangers to tie it. The home team had opportunities before that but it was a lot of passing in the offensive zone instead of putting the puck on net. This shift, the puck ended up behind the net while Mats Zuccarello was there. We all know what happens when Zuccarello gets a hold of the puck in the area I am now calling his office. He found Kreider standing all alone in front and all Kreider had to do was have his stick on the ice and tap it into the empty net. And as usual the response was to point at the little Norwegian and scream thanks. (He picked him up as well in the celebration. I think Kreider-Zuccarello celebrations are becoming my favorite thing to watch this season.)
But this is the Rangers so they gave it back two minutes later. With a little over a minute remaining in the period and Lundqvist on the bench, this happened:
That is just…there are no words. That deflection by Stepan was ridiculous. Absolutely nothing Schneider or the Devils could do on a tip like that. And with that the Rangers somehow forced overtime. I’m not saying the Devils were fantastic tonight but they probably deserved to win more than the home team did.
Overtime was the usual ridiculousness that is 3-on-3. The Rangers proved why they are bad at that format as they continued to pass the puck to no one. And the MSG ice reminded everyone there was basketball in the building in the afternoon. Basically five heart-stopping minutes solved nothing and back to the shootout we went.
We all know how good Zuccarello is at the skills competition. This time he drew Schneider all the way to the left and then tucked the puck into the empty net on the right. You almost feel bad for opposing goalies when he pulls those moves. Almost.
No one else scored until Cammalleri tied it in the third round. Fourth round solved nothing so up came Hayes in the fifth. He shot it five-hole so quickly that I needed a replay to prove it went in and see how it got there. The Devils responded with Severson, a defenseman who tried a bunch of moves and lost the puck so the Rangers took the two points to extend their winning streak to three games (which is nothing in the metro division this year).
I’m not sure what was more surprising – the fact the Rangers won back to back shootouts or the fact Nash somehow didn’t end up on the score sheet tonight. I thought for sure he was getting the winner in overtime. When that didn’t happen, I expected him to get the shootout winner. Vigneault didn’t pick him in the first five shooters. He was named the third star of the game though so that tells you he stood out. (These games are usually game winner and both goalies, it was Nash and the goalies.)
Next up, the Rangers have another metropolitan division clash as they head to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. The Penguins are two points behind with two games in hand so to say this will be a big game is an understatement.
(Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)