New Jersey Devils

In the final preseason with the Rangers, a “freakish” goal separated the New Jersey Devils from victory in regulation, but won the 3-on-3.

By Patrick Comia

It was the same ending, but almost different result for the Devils.

Saturday night showcased the home team New Jersey Devils playing host to their second game at the Prudential Center in 2015.

Their guests: the New York Rangers.

It was a rematch from last Monday’s visit to Madison Square Garden, where the Devils were punched in the gut by a score of 6-3.

However, tonight would prove to be a different story.

The Devils put up a much better effort, almost winning the game in regulation. Fewer mistakes were committed, and better control of the puck were able to keep the team’s chances alive for the win. Unfortunately, it did not start out that way in the early part of the game.

Right from puck drop the Rangers seemed like the “varsity” team while the Devils were the “JV” squad. The Blueshirts were able to control the pace of play in the opening minutes. The ice was tilted very much in their favor, outshooting the Devils and keeping the puck in their defensive zone.

Fortunately, the Devils found their legs and started taking it to their rival, sending a message that they were not going to be walked over. And with that mentality, the game started taking on a feel of a regular season game with hard checks, tempers flaring, goalie bumps, and skirmishes brewing after the whistle.

After a scoreless first period, prospect Reid Boucher got the Devils on the board, after redirecting a shot from the blue line off the stick of defenseman Damon Severson.

Paul Thompson would be awarded the secondary assist. However, Thompson was called roughing after Rangers Viktor Stalberg came in and gave the Devil a jolt. Thompson took exception and got in the Rangers’ face, trying to get him to fight.

Unfortunately, the veteran wasn’t having any of it, and goated him into a penalty. The resulting power play for the Rangers would last no longer than 10 seconds. That’s because defenseman Raphael Diaz would bury the puck past goalie Cory Schneider, off a feed from J.T. Miller from across the ice. The score would be tied 1-1. New Jersey Devils Later in the period the Rangers would strike again on the power play.

This time, the Devils were down two men, causing a five-on-three penalty kill situation. Diaz would strike again, this time one-timing a shot on the right side, off a pass from Derek Stepan. Miller would get his second point of the game, a secondary assist. This would give the Rangers the go-ahead goal. However, the Devils would strike back after the Rangers Chris Kreider was called for goalie interference on Schneider with 2:32 left in the period.

Followed was Oscar Lindberg, who was called for hooking, giving the team it’s own five-on-three power play. Stefan Matteau would capitalize on the Rangers mistakes, putting the past Henrik Lundqvist‘s five-hole off a back-handed pass from Joe Blandisi, tying the game at two heading into the third period.

The Devils would finally get a one-goal lead thanks to the combination of Kyle Palmieri and Andy Greene. Greene would keep the puck alive in the corner, who dished off to Palmieri for the slap shot. The puck was deflected off the Rangers Dan Girardi in front.

However, the Rangers would climb back in the period, scoring two unanswered goals from the Rangers center Derek Stepan. One of the goals was helped by a broken stick left on the ice from an earlier play.

With less than two minutes left, head coach John Hynes pulled Schneider for the extra attacker. It almost worked, as they were several close calls for the Devils, including the best chance from Tyler Kennedy, who was on a PTO with the Devils this preseason. His wrist shot beat Lundqvist up high, but caught the top crossbar, and stayed out.

Hockey wasn’t done yet. The two teams played the new overtime format of three-on-three hockey. Right from puck drop, the Devils looked the more structured and had a strategy in mind, while the Rangers struggled to keep up. Most of the play was in their own zone. With two minutes past, the Devils ended off the stick of Eric Gelinas:

It wasn’t the regulation win, but it was a consolation prize for the team’s efforts. The Devils fought hard. Nothing to hang their heads about, making their rival the Rangers work for their goals.

The Devils will next play on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, at the Wells Fargo Center.

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I'm a blogger trying to make it in this world. Have been, and always will be, a fan of the NYR and NYG. Writing for the New Jersey Devils cause, well, someone has to do it!