Despite both teams locked into a certain fate this season, the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils treated fans to a brilliant hockey game.

  • New York Rangers 2 (45-24-4, 94 pts)
  • New Jersey Devils 3 (27-33-12, 66 pts)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

It’s funny. Considering where each club stands in the eastern conference playoff race, nobody would have circled the date of Mar. 21 as one to watch.

The New Jersey Devils have experienced a horrid season. The only Stanley Cup Playoffs they’ll sniff is if they pop NHL 2017 into their PS4s. The New York Rangers, on the other hand, are playoff bound, but are in the strange position of being locked into a slot. With 93 points, it doesn’t look as though they’ll catch any of the top three in the Metro and they surely won’t fall out into the second wild card slot.

Therefore, we ask ourselves the all-important question: Where’s the drama?

On this night, playoff drama wasn’t needed. The Devils were feisty and physical with the Rangers countering every punch. This combination led to a beautifully played old-time hockey game for the folks at the Prudential Center.

OK, so the game-winner didn’t come via old-time hockey (the 3-on-3 version), the sequence leading up to and including Joseph Blandisi‘s overtime winner was spectacular:

Kevin Hayes nearly pulled off the weakside momentum one-handed goal in a non-shootout format. Unbelievable.

The “old-time hockey” we refer to comes when understanding how the game was played at 5-on-5. Both teams were tough, defensive-minded and, for the most part, extremely responsible. An irresponsible moment came from Miles Wood after he was sent into the bench turnstile by Nick Holden. It led to a mini-brawl between the two squads:

After a scoreless opening frame, youngster John Quenneville, son of Joel, tallied his first NHL goal, via the power play:

The Rangers answered in the form of Oscar Lindberg, under two minutes later. Again, the same pattern repeated itself as Taylor Hall netted his 18th of the season late in the second while Rick Nash cashed in on the power play just 1:21 into the third.

Antti Raanta, still manning the net for Henrik Lundqvist, was steady all night. He stopped 25 Devils shots. Cory Schneider, who’s been horrible this season, was brilliant, especially in the overtime period in robbing both Hayes and Michael Grabner just moments prior. He stopped 38 Rangers shots in total.

The first two periods showcased a solid, balanced brand of hockey from both clubs. The third period was when New York’s forechecking game really came to the party. The Rangers started to take firm control in that final period, allowing just nine Devils shots to their 17.

Next up for New York will be the hated New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. In fact, it’ll be NBC’s Wednesday Night Rivalry spot this week. The Devils will next take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Thursday.

 NEXT: Are the Rangers Contenders or Pretenders? 


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Founder of Elite Sports NY — Formerly of FanSided — Jets, Rangers, Knicks, Yankees, Mets, Giants — Has interviewed the likes of Rob Dyrdek, Michael Waltrip and Dominique Wilkins and has seen his work shared on major publications such as Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, Yahoo Sports, and Yardbarker.

Born as a New York Sports Fan, something unexplainable in his blood that’ll never be shaken. Remembers the Kevin Maas days, the Yankees on MSG, the Bruce Coslet era, and the Spring of ’94.

E-Mail: robsabo10@elitesportsny.com