Game 66 Recap: No excuses – Devils beat the Rangers
(headline by @ThatsJustPrime)
No excuses. Why such a headline? Well, many of us know Rangers fans, and many of us interact with them regularly. Tonight, the Devils out-scored, out-hit, out-shot, out-faceoff’ed (I don’t know if that’s a word, but it is now), and yes, out-played the top team in the Eastern Conference: the New York Rangers, and they didn’t need the Rangers’ backup goaltender, a bounce off the glass support or a goalie interference penalty to do it. The Devils, who had certainly struggled recently, losing five of their last six games entering this game, got a much-needed 4-1 win over the rival Rangers.
The Devils have gotten off to some good starts in the previous games against the Rangers this season, but perhaps none of them were as good as tonight’s start. After a neutral zone turnover by the Rangers, Zach Parise sent Ilya Kovalchuk on a partial breakaway, and Kovy, goal-less in his last nine games entering this one, snapped one by Henrik Lundqvist 49 seconds into the game, and that set the tone for the night. Kovalchuk was everywhere in the first period. He finished with five shots, including a pair on a late power play, and Lundqvist made two big saves on him to keep it 1-0 Devils. There were a pair of fights in the period as well. Ryan Carter challenged Brandon Dubinsky, who spoke out against the Devils after the last meeting. Dubinsky was injured in the fight and left the game. 6’8″ John Scott than took on Devils’ heavyweight Cam Janssen. One of the highlights of the period was a beautiful end-to-end shorthanded rush by Adam Henrique, who dangled by several Rangers, but Lundqvist stopped him on his backhand shot.
What did fans think of the period? We take to Twitter:
@livelovehockeyy: So proud of Kovy scoring after a no goal streak. I think we’re doing pretty good and defense is fantastic today.
@ACC_NS_Wags: The whole team really, good 1st period. Worked together and got ahead/stayed ahead as a result.
Scoring chances were officially 9-2 in favor of the Devils in the period. Shots on goal were 11-9 Devils.
The Rangers responded, though. They came out firing in the second period. They had the first six shots of the period, and controlled play early in the period. Martin Brodeur made a series of tremendous saves, including a pair on Ryan Callahan: one on a backhander from the slot and another on a breakaway. Just before the 7-minute mark of the period, the Rangers got on the board. Rookie Carl Hagelin, who’s quickly becoming a Devil-killer, fed Derek Stepan, who snuck in tight behind the Devils’ defense, and Stepan one-timed the puck just in under the crossbar, and the game was tied. The Rangers continued to get chances, but after they iced the puck, it was Rangers coach John Tortorella who used his timeout. The Devils settled down as the period went on and took over the game late in the period, after Marian Gaborik took a late slashing penalty.
So, with the game tied at two after two periods, how were we feeling about the game?
@JGSportsTalk: Started off the period sloppily, began playing better as it went on. Marty is the reason that the game is still 1-1, though.
@kmart890: Slow start to the second. Picked it up. Need that first period style again though.
@RobHBedford: Sloppy confused play in 1st half of 2nd period leads to NYR goal, but nice play at end of 2nd period.
The third period was one of the Devils’ best this season. They have certainly had their share of third period struggles, and at times, even meltdowns, but they were not to be denied tonight. The Devils threw 11 shots on net in the third, and limited the Rangers to just three shots in the final frame. The Devils scored as many goals as the Rangers had shots. At 2:27, David Clarkson dropped a pass to Petr Sykora entering the zone, and Sykora’s shot went off Clarkson and past Lundqvist. The Devils re-gained the lead. Not even two minutes later, Ilya Kovalchuk picked up the puck in the neutral zone, and he fed Jacob Josefson on a 2-on-1. Josefson, who had nearly 14 minutes of ice-time on this night, passed across to Ryan Carter, and Carter buried his third goal of the season. It was arguably both Josefson and Carter’s best games of the season. That made it 3-1 Devils, and that was more than enough for Brodeur and the Devils. Lundqvist stopped David Clarkson on a near-empty net later on. In fact, the Devils kept pressing for a fourth goal, and had a pair of power plays to do so, but it took a Patrik Elias empty net goal to cap it off with 1:53 remaining. The Devils nearly scored again right after, but the 4-1 score held up.
So, about that 3rd period…
@JerseyGuy276: 3rd Period progress! Devils won the game in the 3rd instead of losing it!
@RobHBedford: Great win for the Devils, must win in a playoff atmosphere, feeling a bit better about them now.
@jwogradyjr: Excellent game overall….Devs looked like they were on PP even at even strength. Great win over the Rangers.
Thanks to everyone who tweeted along with Allyson tonight!
Some game notes: Ilya Kovalchuk snapped a season-long goal-less drought of 9 games and 35 shots with his goal 49 seconds in on Lundqvist. He added an assist and leads the Devils with 64 points. Patrik Elias recorded a goal and an assist as well, as he remains one point behind Kovalchuk. Zach Parise’s assist brings him to 57 points. David Clarkson’s goal on 5 shots and Kovalchuk’s goal on a game-high 8 shots bring both to 26 goals, which is one behind Zach Parise’s team-leading 27 goals. Ryan Carter recorded his first point since December 16th and first goal since November 19th. Martin Brodeur made 25 saves on 26 shots, giving him his 46th win against the Rangers, third this season.
The Devils are the only team in the NHL to defeat the Rangers three times this season.