After sixteen days without a Devils game, the New Jersey Devils battle the New York Rangers for the second of eight games. After having a total of twenty Devils on the COVID protocol list, 3 Devils remain on the list. Dmitry Kulikov, Nico Hischier, and Travis Zajac remain on the list and would not be eligible to play versus the Rangers. In their previous matchup, the Devils won 4-3 while Jack Hughes totaled 3 points with 2 goals and 1 assist. Mackenzie Blackwood also made a massive 47 saves and Adam Fox was the Rangers’ top performer who recorded 2 points. The battle of the Hudson is renewed again…
The beginning of the game welcomed a fight between Michael McLeod and Chris Kreider due to a big hit on Mika Zibanejad. After the fight, the Devils recorded the first 5 shots on goal and had multiple high-danger chances. Igor Shesterkin came up with multiple high-quality saves to keep the game even. The Devils’ first game back featured an extremely fast-paced first period. Mackenzie Blackwood made a total of 9 saves in the first period with a few shots being scoring chances. The Devils controlled most of the first period and had the better play of the two teams.
With 45 seconds remaining, Kreider took a delay of game penalty. New Jersey was unable to register a shot on the first 45 seconds of the powerplay but would have a remaining 1:15 to start the second period. The difference in the first period was Shesterkin, who stopped all 16 shots that he faced.
The Devils had 1:15 on the powerplay to start the period, but the Rangers recorded 2 chances on the kill. The Rangers had the first 6 shots on goal in the second. New York was the better team for the first half of the period and registered a couple of quality chances that Blackwood fought off.
The Devils got another chance on the powerplay and Pavel Zacha ripped a shot past Shesterkin. The play between both teams evened out and chances were happening at both ends. At 11:32 of the second, Colin Blackwell got one past Blackwood and tied the game at 1. Only 3 minutes later, Will Butcher would score his first goal of the season in his first game to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. After a poor giveaway by Nicholas Merkley, Pavel Buchnevich was able to sneak one past Blackwood and tie the game with 33 seconds left in the period. With shots even at 25 apiece, both teams head into the 3rd period tied at 2.
Both teams came out of the locker room with an equal pace. After a few chances back and forth for each team, the game was still tied with 10 minutes to go. Shots were also equal with 29 apiece. At 9:17 of the 3rd, P.K. Subban threw a puck at the net that was beautifully redirected by Yegor Sharangovich. Four minutes later, Merkley scored his first goal of the season off of a pass from Janne Kuokkanen. The last 3 minutes of the game consisted of the Devils icing the puck and aiming at an empty Rangers net. Eventually, Mikhail Maltsev netted his first career NHL goal with an empty-net goal. The final shots for the 3rd period were 14-12 Rangers.
After 16 days without a game, the Devils get their first win since their COVID hiatus! The Devils came out with a lot of speed and energy and dominated much of the first period. They ended the first with a 16-9 shots on goal lead. The Devils and Rangers combined for 4 goals in the second period and opened up the game. The Devils were able to dominate the second half of the 3rd period and notch 2 goals. Mackenzie Blackwood made 37 saves while Igor Shesterkin made 32 saves. Impressively, the Devils were able to go the entire game without taking a penalty and went 1/2 on the powerplay. Janne Kuokkanen had a 3 point night and Zacha was noticeable the entire game. The 16-day game less span was becoming more noticeable as the game went on, but the Devils were still able to pull out the win!