It took 50 games this season, but the New Jersey Devils and rival New York Rangers finally matched up this season.
The first meeting between the two Metropolitan Division opponents, the two teams went back and forth trading goal's but it was Ranger Mika Zibanejad who had the final say, completing his hattrick to give the Rangers a late 4-3 lead they would not relinquish. New Jersey dropping their matchup to New York by the same score.
Here are 10 Takeaways from the game:
1. There was a shakeup on defense for the New Jersey Devils after it was announced that Sami Vatanen was placed on injured reserve with a concussion. The absence of Vatanen paved way for Egor Yakovlev to draw into the lineup. Yakovlev had played just 11 games this season, prior to Thursday night's game. In facing the Rangers, the Russian defenseman was paired with Steven Santini. Yakovlev had himself quite the night, scoring the Devils 3-3 tying goal with the Rangers at 5:36 of the third period, 53 seconds after the Rangers took their first lead of the game.
The goal was Yakovlev's second career NHL goal.
2. Prior to the game, goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood was recalled from Binghamton and served as Keith Kinkaid's backup. In the corresponding move, Cam Johnson was sent down to the AHL, where Blackwood spent the NHL All-Star Break and participated in the AHL All-Star Game.
3. Kinkaid made 21 saves on 25 shots in the loss to the Rangers in 58:05 on the ice.
4. With his 14th goal of the season, Nico Hischier opened the scoring for both teams on Thursday night. Hischier converted on the power play at 5:10 of the first period after Pavel Zacha fished out a puck from a scrum in front of Henrik Lundqvist's net to feed Hischier for the goal.
Zacha and Jesper Bratt were credited with the assists.
5. Marcus Johansson made it a 2-0 game with the Devils second power play goal of the first period at 16:18. Sprawling out on his stomach to reach a loose puck, Johansson essentially slid into home base to tap the puck with the end of his stick to pump it into an open net.
The goal was Johansson's eighth of the season and was assisted on by Brian Boyle and Damon Severson.
6. Both Hischier and Johansson ended the night with two points. For Johansson, he currently has four points in his last three games, on a three-game point streak (1-3-4). As for Hischier, his two-points marks the 21st career multi-point game in the young center's career. This season, with plenty of games remaining on the schedule, Hischier already has 10 multi-point games.
7. With the two power play goals in the first period, the Devils have scored power play goals in back-to-back games for the first time since December 31 (versus Vancouver) and January 2nd at Dallas.
8. With two of the Devils big time penalty killers in Sami Vatanen and Ben Lovejoy both on injured reserve with the Rangers in town, that paved way for other players to take the responsibility of being on the ice while down a man. Head coach John Hynes entrusted some of that ice time to recent call-up Kevin Rooney who played 1:07 on the penalty kill. Rooney has been a standout penalty killer while playing in the AHL with the Binghamton Devils.
9. While New Jersey gave up two power play goals to the Rangers on Thursday night, it marked only the fourth time this season that the Devils have allowed two power play goals in a game to their opponent. They twice surrendered two power play goals to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in the season, as well as the Detroit Red Wings.
10. The Devils will head out on the road next to visit the Montreal Canadiens for a matinee matchup on Saturday (2PM) before beginning a four-game homestand with four games in six nights at Prudential Center beginning February 5th hosting the LA Kings.