NEW YORK – The New York Rangers picked up their second straight shootout win in consecutive nights as they beat the cross-river rival New Jersey Devils 3-2. It was the second game of the back-to-back for the Blueshirts who played the Nashville Predators last night and picked up a shootout win there as well. It was their sixth win in their last seven games. The Rangers continue to mount the wins as they pick up their league leading 23rd win of the season and now improve to 23-10-1 (47 points) on the season. They also improve to 12-5-1 on home ice.
In their last 88 back-to-back sets (since the start of the 2010-11 season), the Rangers have posted a 59-23-6 record in the second game of the set. New York has posted a 6-0-0 record in the second game of a back-to-back set in 2016-17.
The Rangers, who, stole two points in Nashville were able to do the same in front of the Madison Square Garden faithful as they came back twice in the game. It was a even opening period between both teams although the Rangers came out shooting. The Rangers also found themselves in penalty trouble as they took a total four on the night. The Devils got on the board first in period two as former Ranger P.A. Parenteau was able to get a shot to bank in off of Henrik Lundqvist and in the net for the games first lead and the first power play goal the Rangers had given up in a stretch of games.
Despite playing the night before, the Rangers best period came in the third as they seemed to have better legs and were able to generate more chances. Devils goalie Cory Schneider stood on his head for much of the night but terrific forechecking by Mats Zuccarello found an open Chris Kreider in front to put the puck in the net without a flinch from Schneider. For Kreider it was his ninth goal of the season. Just over two minutes later the Rangers mistake behind the net cost them and the Devils regained the lead on a Miles Wood goal.
Desperation time set in for the Rangers as time ran out. They put their extra skater on and captain Ryan McDoungh set up Derek Stepan for a beautiful tip and into the net with just under 90 seconds to play to tie the game at 2. It was Stepan’s sixth goal of the season and couldn’t have come at a better time. Overtime proved to be a thriller but we needed a shootout to determine the winner. It took four rounds but Kevin Hayes had the eventual winner.
Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves in regulation and overtime, and stopped three of four shooters he faced in the shootout, to earn his 15th win of the season. Lundqvist earned his 389th career NHL win in tonight’s contest, tying Dominik Hasek for the most wins by a European-born goaltender in league history. In addition, Lundqvist tied Hasek for 12th place on the NHL’s all-time wins list.
The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in regulation/overtime in 24 of 34 games this season, including 11 of the last 13 games and each of the last seven contests. The Rangers have posted a 20-3-1 record in the 24 games which they have allowed two goals or fewer in 2016-17. The Blueshirts have allowed six goals in over the last seven games (0.86 goals against per game over the span).
Derek Stepan registered a goal to tie the game with 1:13 remaining in regulation and recorded three shots on goal in the contest. He has tallied 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 30 career games against the Devils.
As for the coach, Alain Vigneault went on to talk about how he felt tonight’s game had gone, We have to win as a team. That’s what we’ve done basically since the beginning. Whether you want to call it balanced scoring, balanced defending, strong goaltending – we are built on a team basis. Tonight probably wasn’t one of our prettiest games but we came back twice against a real good goaltender [Cory Schneider] and team that knows how to defend and got it done in a shootout.”
On finding ways to win, Vigneault went on to say, “At the beginning of the season as everyone remembers we were scoring in bunches. Right now we are scoring one to two goals a game. We are finding ways to win those games. That’s the timely save, that’s the making the high-percentage play, not forcing something that is not there. Tonight we are able to tie it. Step [Derek Stepan] made a great play. It’s a 50-50 puck and we got to it and he was able to tip that puck in. We have to continue to do it as a team and that’s what we saw tonight.”
Stepan, who scored the tying goal went on to talk about the game, “I thought we’ve done a good job of that this year. I think that’s something that we’ve always been good at here is just staying calm and collected and just continuing to push the pace. I thought we did a lot of good things in the third period. They find a way to score a goal; it’s going to happen. I liked our response and our ability to get one.”
When talking about the trying goal, Stepan went on to say, “It’s a heck of a play by Mac [Ryan McDonagh]. [When you are] 6-on-5 you have to make a heck of a play to score and Ryan certainly did it. It ends up in the back of the net and we find a way to get it to overtime and we get a huge second point too.”
The Rangers have been playing a lot of hockey and soon they will get some days off but not before they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins come Tuesday and then the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
The Rangers’ 23 wins in 2016-17 are tied for the most the team has earned through the first 34 games of one season in franchise history. The Blueshirts have now earned 23 wins in their first 34 games of a season five times in franchise history (1941-42, 1970-71, 1971-72, 1993-94, 2016-17).
The Blueshirts have recorded at least one point in each of their last seven home games against the Devils (5-0-2) and in 11 of their last 12 home games against New Jersey (9-1-2).
Mats Zuccarello registered an assist, tallied a goal in the shootout, led all skaters with four takeaways, and posted a plus-one rating. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, 151 of his 190 points since have either been a goal or the primary assist on a goal (79.5% of his points have been primary points).