There were goals. There were fights. There was a rivalry. And there was a New Jersey win.
The New Jersey Devils hosted the New York Rangers in their final home game of the season on Monday night. The first goal in 27 games and first goal in a New Jersey Devils uniform for defenseman Connor Carrick gave the Devils the lead at the 15:50 mark of the third period to take a 3-2 lead.
With Joey Anderson's empty-net goal, the Devils beat the Rangers for the first time this season in a 4-2 final as the Devils close out their home schedule for the 2018-19 NHL season.
Here are 10 takeaways from the game:
1. After a 15-game absence with a shoulder injury, forward Nathan Bastian returned to the Devils lineup against the New York Rangers. Bastian has been out exactly one month, his last game being March 1st against the Philadelphia Flyers. In the rivalry matchup, Bastian made his presence felt with three hits and 8:35 minutes on the ice. Bastian also dropped the gloves against Ranger defenseman Anthony DeAngelo midway through the second period. Both players were assessed five minutes for fighting.
2. It took less than four minutes into the game for the Devils to open the score against the Rangers with a Miles Wood wrister that got by Henrik Lundqvist. Wood came streaking down the ice with the puck on his stick with unmatched speed when he released the puck from the right circle. The goal was Wood's 10th of the season and put the Devils up 1-0.
Connor Carrick and Mirco Mueller assisted the play. Mueller continues to build on a career season with his 10th assist and 11th point of the season in 51 games played.
3. Travis Zajac extended New Jersey's lead with 5:26 left in the opening 20 minutes. On the power play, Zajac tipped a Damon Severson blueline shot past Lundqvist for the redirection and a 2-0 lead on the Rangers.
The goal was Zajac's 18th of the season, marking the first time since the 2013-14 NHL season that the veteran Devil has reached the 18-goal mark. Nico Hischier (29) and Severson (27) were credited with the assists.
4. The power play goal was a milestone marker for Zajac, who has only ever played for the New Jersey franchise. The goal was Zajac's 185th career goal, which ties the Winnipeg native with fellow Canadian Kirk Muller for 5th in all-time in goals in franchise history.
To add to that milestone, the goal was Zajac's 51st on the power play in his 13 year career. He has now tied Scott Niedermayer and Zach Parise for 5th all-time in Devils power play history.
5. The Rangers would eventually break through Mackenzie Blackwood in the Devils net at the 18:40 mark to cut New Jersey's lead to 2-1. Only 18 seconds later, New York thought they had scored again. The Devils avoided giving up two goals on a heads-up play by Severson. Severson managed to swipe the puck off the goal-line after a shot ricocheted off Blackwood and behind him. The Rangers originally thought they had scored, but upon further review the referees deemed the puck had not crossed the goal line. And with that, the Devils took a 2-1 lead into the second period.
6. The second period was eventful, filled with fisticuffs between the two teams to heat up the rivalry. Not only did Bastian drop the gloves with Tony DeAngelo but following their fight, Miles Wood and Brendan Lemieux went after one another, not to be outdone by Blake Coleman and Rangers Lias Andersson moments later. The fight filled affair, coupled with two minor penalties to the Devils, marked 11 penalties handed out in the second period totaling 40 minutes with six major penalties.
7. When the Rangers scored on their power play opportunity at 16:26 of the second period with Devils captain and elite penalty-killer Andy Greene in the box for holding, the Rangers goal ended a run of 17 straight successful penalty kills for New Jersey. The Devils entered the game with the league's 4th ranked penalty kill at 84.7 percent. The goal, which was awarded to Filip Chytil on a Rangers 2-on-1, tied the game at two-all.
8. Mackenzie Blackwood had the honors of closing out the regular season home schedule in his 22nd appearance this season. Blackwood will also play in the Devils regular season finale this weekend in Florida. Blackwood posted the Devils' first win against the Rangers this season making 30 saves on 32 shots.
9. The Devils wrap up their home season with a victory and a 20-14-7 record. One of those wins, the first of the season, was played in Sweden as part of the NHL's Global Series.
10. The Devils will finish out their schedule with two stops on their final road trip. New Jersey will visit Carolina Thursday night before their final game of the year in Florida against the Panthers Saturday.