GAME STORY: Devils 6, Rangers 4
Devils rally from a 2-1 deficit to top the Rangers 6-4 at Madison Square Garden on the strength of two-goal performances from Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieriby Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com
NEW YORK, NY - After falling behind the game early, the Devils rallied to defeat the New York Rangers 6-4 at MSG. Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac each had two goals to lead the way for the visitors.
"I'm proud of the guys. It was a tough task coming into this rink against a team playing well. We played a solid game, didn't give up too much and were able to capitalize on some chances," said Zajac.
Julien Gauthier spun around the net then fed Filip Chytil in front who fired the puck top corner in the slot past Mackenzie Blackwood to put the Rangers on the board first as the Rangers held the edge early in the game, outshooting the Devils 7-2 through the opening five minutes.
Forty-eight seconds after the Rangers goal, Kyle Palmieri took a shot from a wide angle that found its way through Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin to tie the game up.
Less than a minute after the Devils goal, the Rangers moved back in the lead. Mika Zibanejad worked a quick give-and-go with Adam Fox which ended in him wiring a shot from the high slot.
Blackwood slid across and got his pad on a Ryan Strome shot at close range with 8:48 to go in the first.
Nico Hischier cleared the puck into the crowd from his own zone resulting in a delay-of-game penalty, giving the game's first power play to the Rangers but Devils were able to kill it off.
Damon Severson was called for cross-checking to send the Rangers back on the power play with 4:29 to go in the first but the Devils PK again came up big.
"The power play was hot for the Rangers but we didn't give them anything so they did a good job," said Nasreddine.
Zajac added that a lot of penalty killers came up big, particularly early on.
"A main focus coming into the game was not to take penalties but early on the guys who were out there did a great job on things we wanted to look for and tendencies," Zajac stated.
After one, shots on goal were even at 12-12.
"Collectively as a group, it wasn't a bad period," said Palmieri. "We just knew we had more. When you look back at the way our series has gone with these guys, we were ready to put our push on and play our game and we went out and did that."
Video: Palmieri, Zajac propel Devils past Rangers
Palmieri swooped in and hammered home a rebound to get the Devils back on even terms only 44 seconds into the middle frame.
"A couple fortunate bounces on the two there but it was good to contribute in that way," he said. "Had a couple opportunities in the last couple of games and it's good to see those go in."
Less than a minute after Palmieri's game-tying marker, Freddy Claesson's shot from the point beat Shesterkin glove side to put New Jersey in the lead for the first time tonight.
Mike McLeod was called for tripping to give the Rangers power play a chance to get back on even terms but Devils killed their third penalty of the game.
"Our penalty kill's been playing great," Palmieri remarked. "They've done a great job. A lot of times it's your goalie who's your best penalty killer but those guys go out and play for each other and make sure that the puck stays out of our net."
Palmieri fed Wood on a partial breakaway but his shot was turned away by Shesterkin with 5:14 to go in the second. On the play, Adam Fox was called for tripping to send the Devils on their first power play of the game.
Devils capitalized as Travis Zajac redirected a feed from Hischier top corner on Shesterkin to make it 4-2. The lead was extended to 5-2 25 seconds later after John Hayden redirected a point shot from Severson to put the Devils up by three.
"We've been playing some good hockey for the last little while here and because of that we've got some confidence in these situations and are able to beat real good teams," Zajac said.
Shots in the second were 14-11 for the Rangers but Devils outscored the home side 4-1 in the period.
"Really strong period. It's not like we hated our first period. They came out flying and capitalized on a couple chances but in general it wasn't that bad of a period," said Nasreddine.
Rangers pulled to within a pair of goals after Brendan Smith's shot from the left point was tipped way to the net by Greg McKegg and beat Blackwood with 6:18 to go in the third.
With 55.7 seconds to go, Zajac took advantage of a Fox giveaway at his own blueline to put the puck into an empty net.
Twelve seconds later, the Rangers scored to draw back within two. But that was as close as they would get.
"There was a lot of motivation coming in. The confidence was really high after a really good game against St. Louis. Sometimes you win and don't deserve it but we played really well against the Blues last night," Nasreddine said.
"Back-to-back wins against two teams that were really hot. Blues eight-game winning streak and Rangers probably the hottest team in the League."