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Comeback Falls Short in New Jersey

Zibanejad, Gilmour Score in Loss

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers' 5-4 loss to New Jersey Saturday night was not without its positives.

Despite the first loss of the exhibition season, Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff have much to be pleased about. Mika Zibanejad scored another power play goal and the decisions on defense haven't gotten much easier. In fact, they could be even more difficult.

John Gilmour picked up his second goal in as many games while Adam Clendening picked up two more assists, bringing him to four in two games with the Rangers.

The Rangers opened the scoring just 3:27 into the game when Jesper Fast redirected a Brady Skjei pass in the slot that beat Anders Lindback. It was Fast's first goal of the preseason, while Clendening's secondary assist was his third of the exhibition year.

But the game swung in New Jersey's direction when Beau Bennett scored two goals 3:44 apart to put the Devils up 2-1 midway through the opening period.

Video: NYR@NJD: Zibanejad cuts deficit to one with PPG

Gilmour knotted things back up after converting a pretty behind-the-back pass from winger Ryan Gropp from the faceoff circle at 9:07 of the second period. It was Gilmour's second of the preseason and Gropp's first point in his first preseason game after being drafted in the second-round of the 2015 NHL Draft.

But it was all New Jersey from that point on in the second period. The Devils scored three goals in less than six minutes, including a power play goal from Taylor Hall.

"It was a game that got away from us a little bit in the second period," Vigneault said. "We made those costly turnovers. But other than that, I thought we had a young lineup and I thought the guys tried to implmeent what we were talking, structure wise. But those turnovers int he second were costly."

The third period was a different story, though. With a power play just expiring, Michael Grabner got a piece of a Michael Paliotta shot from the point that beat Lindback to get the Rangers to within a goal.

New York would strike again, this time on the power play, when Zibanejad went top shelf just outside the crease to make it 5-4. Zibanejad converted on a goal mouth pass from J.T. Miller to get the Blueshirts to within a goal with less than 5 minutes remaining in the third, but that was as close as things would get.

Antti Raanta started the game and allowed two goals on 18 shots over 30:43 of action before giving way to Magnus Hellberg, who allowed three goals on the first eight shots he saw.

Miller, who appeared in his first preseason game following the World Cup of Hockey, said he felt good, but wasn't pleased with his own performance.

"I felt really good coming to the game. My legs felt good in the game," Miller said. "My passes were getting through. I probably five or six at least that didn't get through. Just a couple plays here and there I felt a little rusty on, but I thought I got better as the game went on."

Video: Miller after first preseason game

The Rangers' power play went just 1-for-6, while the penalty kill, which had been a perfect 11-for-11 entering the game, went 3-for-5.

The Rangers' preseason continues Monday when the Blueshirts head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.

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