Devils Deal Blow to Rangers’ Playoff Run

Devils celebrate a goal from Kyle Palmieri. (Photo Credit: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
Devils celebrate a goal from Kyle Palmieri. (Photo Credit: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey

Recap

The New Jersey Devils came into Madison Square Garden on the second half of their back-to-back to continue playing spoiler and try to derail the New York Rangers playoff run.

Coming into the game, the Devils were well out of a playoff spot but coming off of a big win over the St. Louis Blues at The Rock. The Rangers were two points behind the New York Islanders for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and coming off an overtime win versus the Washington Capitals, where Mika Zibanejad scored five goals.

Both teams were dedicated to the cause, as the Devils started Mackenzie Blackwood specifically for this contest, while the Rangers started their young rookie and talented goaltender in Igor Shesterkin, who had just come back from a rib injury he sustained from a car accident right before the trade deadline.

The Devils came out flying and while they would fall behind 2-1 by the end of the first period, they would rally back and score four unanswered goals in the 2nd period before entering the third period with a 5-2 lead. The Devils would go on to win the game by a final score of 6-4 and keep the Rangers from gaining any points in the standings that they are fighting for.

Three Devils Takeaways

Kyle Palmieri continues to show why the Devils did not move him at the deadline and why he must be signed to an extension this offseason as a part of this team’s future. He scored twice for the Devils, including a shot from a very hard angle to score from. And he’s an offensive weapon and a good veteran presence on a team of young players that the Devils need. While many saw the team selling at the deadline, an important thing to remember is who Devils did not trade away, as well as who they did too. Young talented players are great to have, but there needs to be a veteran leadership presence in place to guide the ship and stay on course through the good and bad times.

Travis Zajac and the Devils celebrate after he scores to tie Zach Parise for 4th on the Devils all-time scoring list. (Photo Credit:  Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
Travis Zajac and the Devils celebrate after he scores to tie Zach Parise for 4th on the Devils all-time scoring list. (Photo Credit: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Travis Zajac passed Zach Parise with two goals in the contest, one being an empty netter to seal the victory, to become fourth on the Devils all-time goal-scoring list with 195 career goals. The only players ahead of him are:

3) Bobby Holik with 202 goals

2) John MacLean with 347 goals

1) Patrick Elias with 408 goals

While I doubt Zajac will catch Elias or MacLean before his career ends, he can certainly catch Bobby Holik to become a part of the top three in Devils history for goal scoring. Whether he does that this season or next, he certainly can do it. Zajac is already third in terms of total points in Devils franchise history, with 530 points behind only MacLean and Elias.

Zajac also is tied with Scott Stevens for fifth in total assists in Devils history, with 337, and will try to catch MacLean (354 assists), Scott Gomez (361), and Scott Neidermayer (364) before the end of his career. I doubt Zajac will catch Elias in assists, as Elias has 617, so Zajac may have to settle for number two on that list if he can catch Neidermayer.

Mackenzie Blackwood did not have a bad game, even though four goals in the score column may dictate otherwise. The shots that got by Blackwood include a pass out front from behind the goal line to a wide-open Ranger in the slot, a Devils turnover in the defensive zone that led to a tic-tac-toe goal off a 3-on-2, a shot from the point that was tipped at the end with some traffic in front of him, and an intended pass at the end that actually went off Devils’ defenseman Connor Carrick’s skate and through Blackwood’s five-hole. Do fans wish Blackwood did not let up four goals? Sure, but at the same time, I would not put any of the four goals he gave up in the column of “the goalie has gotta save those.” Blackwood ended up with 27 saves on 31 shots when it was all said and done.

Stats and Highlights

The Devils’ next contest will be Tuesday, March 10 at The Rock against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7pm ET. Until then, these are your game stats and highlights to enjoy from this victory over the Rangers. Oh, and remember to vote “Taylor Ham”!

Game Stats

DevilsvsRangers
22 (42.3%)Faceoffs30 (57.7%)
1 for 1Power Plays0 for 3
24Hits28
29Shots35
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