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Crawley Scores in Hometown Debut, but Rangers Fall to Devils

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey native Brandon Crawley scored in his first exhibition game with the Rangers, who fell to the Devils, 2-1, Saturday night in Newark.

With the Rangers on the power play and down 1-0 early in the third period, Lias Andersson fed a cross ice pass to Crawley, who blasted a slap shot from the top of the circle through traffic and Cory Schneider for his first tally of the preseason.

"It was a pretty incredible experience to kind of get my first taste of NHL action," Crawley said after the game. "The end result wasn't what we wanted, but it was nice to get my feet wet. It felt pretty good."

Crawley, the team's fourth round pick in June's Entry Draft, grew up in nearby Glen Rock, and has spent the last two seasons with London of the Ontario Hockey League.

"Honestly, it's tough to describe," said Crawley, who had family in attendance. "I've grown up watching Devils-Rangers rivalry. I've seen so many different players play in this game. It's just incredible to be on the other side of the ice. It was really special and it was something I won't forget."

Video: NYR@NJD: Crawley goes top-shelf for PPG

The Rangers played a majority of the game with just 11 forwards after Andrew Desjardins, who is in camp on a professional tryout, was penalized for a hit to the head on Miles Wood that resulted in a match penalty and a five-minute major. The Devils' John Moore retaliated and was given two minutes for roughing.

The physicality did not end there. Brendan Smith was called for elbowing John Quenneville. The hit was followed by Jimmy Hayes retaliating, resulting in both getting two minutes for roughing.

New Jersey's first goal by Joseph Blandisi came with the man advantage at 8:41 of the middle period. Drew Stafford scored at 14:24 of the third to break the 1-1 tie. 

Mika Zibanejad got his first work of the preseason after battling an illness at the start of training camp. He finished with two shots in 17:16 of ice time.

Henrik Lundqvist started and played the first two periods, finishing with 23 saves before giving way to Brandon Halverson, who made eight saves and took the loss.

"The fact that I only played two periods and still have 24 shots, it was a good test for me," Lundqvist said. "I had to work a little bit. That's all I'm looking for right now. Just to get some action and get comfortable out there. I felt better as the game moved on."

Lundqvist's final prep for the regular season comes Monday night when he'll get the full 60 minutes against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Ondrej Pavelec will get the full game Tuesday in Philadelphia.

No. 30 said he expects the final dry run to be enough to get him ready for opening night Oct. 5 against the Avalanche.

"This definitely helps," he said. "Some games you play a period and a half and you face 10 shots. I had 24. I felt like I was in the game. There was a lot of zone time because of all the penalty kills. That helps to build you game. It helps you to go to practice the next day and work on things because you get a lot of feedback from every situation."

"I look forward to playing the next game, a full game and after that, I have a week of just good hard work in practice," Lundqvist added. "I think it'll be enough, for sure. Every game gets you closer to where you need to be mentally."

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