Injuries Mount as Devils Fall to Rangers By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
Last time these teams met the Devils schlacked the Rangers 7-4. It was their first win in the last nine meetings between the Hudson River Rivals.
Tuesday night in Newark, the Devils missed out on a chance to make it two straight against the Rangers as they dropped their fourth and final meeting of the season by the score of 3-1. A performance pockmarked by multiple special teams failures and several more injuries, New Jersey could not find a way to beat the Blueshirts.
Here’s how it all went down.
1) It was a matchup of struggling netminders as Nico Daws started for the Devils opposite Alexander Georgiev for the Rangers. Entering the night, Daws’ last 10 games have been hard to watch for New Jersey. The rookie was 3-7-0 with an .880 SV% while thrice being pulled. Meanwhile, Georgiev entered the night sporting a 4-3-0 record in his last 10 games. However, Georgiev’s save percentage in that span was a porous .869.
On this night, it wasn’t the goalies who determined the outcome of the game, but rather it was the special teams units for New Jersey who let the team down.
“They (the Rangers) were the better team tonight,” said Jesper Bratt. “We knew they have a good power-play and today their special teams were better than ours…We didn’t do a good enough job of getting shots through.”
2) In the opening couple minutes New Jersey attempted to create an odd-man rush when a returning Miles Wood sped up the ice with Jesper Bratt to his right against Ryan Strome. At the last moment, Wood tried to make a cross-ice pass to Bratt that Strome broke up with his nifty stick.
3) Through the first five-plus minutes the Rangers outshot the Devils seven to one, putting plenty of pressure on Daws to make several quality saves.
4) Then, 6:56 into the first period, Yegor Sharangovich intercepted Jacob Trouba’s pass and took it up the ice for a breakaway. Sharangovich did a little shake and bake move against Georgiev and put the puck in the back of the net to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.
5) Just over three minutes after Sharangovich’s goal, the rookie’s night was over. Braden Schneider laid a big, clean hit on Jesper Boqvist and Sharangovich went over to New York’s rookie with fists blazing. An ugly, haymaker-filled bout ended with New Jersey’s sharpshooter being sent to the Devils’ room with a suspected head injury, as well as being called for an Instigator-misconduct penalty. For the record, it was Sharangovich’s first career fight.
“It’s a side of him we really haven’t seen before,” said Bratt.
6) On New Jersey’s ensuing penalty-kill Nico Daws was victimized by a returning Ryan Strome, who scored from the slot to tie the game 1-1 at 11:07 of the first period. Artemi Panarin passed the puck down low to Chris Kreider, who fed Strome for the power-play marker.
7) Fast forward to the 17:32 mark of the first period and Pavel Zacha was sent to the box for holding Adam Fox. On the penalty-kill for the second time in the game, New Jersey again could not suppress New York’s power-play. Chris Kreider redirected – of course he did – Artemi Panarin’s shot past Daws to put the Devils in a 2-1 hole.
8) During the first intermission the Devils announced Jack Hughes will miss the rest of the season with a low-grade MCL sprain in his left knee. It’s a blow to the player and the team but it should give other young players a chance to earn more ice time and potentially set themselves up for next season.
“It could have been a lot worse,” said Devils Head Coach Lindy Ruff. “Guys are going to get bigger opportunities in his absence…If it were up to him, (Jack) probably thinks he’d be ready to play in a week.”
9) Onto the second period and it took close to seven-minutes for the action to pick up. New Jersey put its pedal to the metal and peppered Georgiev with a trio of shots on goal that forced New York’s netminder to make a couple of nice saves at the side of his net.
“The game turned into a real tight defensive battle on both sides,” said Ruff.
10) Less than a minute after New Jersey’s flurry of shots Braden Schneider laid a big, clean hit on Jimmy Vesey that had the latter down on the ice next to Georgiev’s net. Vesey tried unsuccessfully to crawl off the ice before being helped off by a team trainer and Jesper Boqvist. From the press box view it appeared that Vesey could not put any weight on his left leg. That’s two Devils forwards Schneider removed from the game in less than two periods.
11) With 6:44 remaining in the second period Andrew Copp was sent to the box for tripping Ty Smith. On the power-play for the first time in the game New Jersey failed to record a shot on goal. However, the Devils did allow the Rangers to generate two short-handed chances with Ryan Strome clanging the puck off the post.
12) At the end of the second period a quick glance at the scoring chart showed the Rangers generated just a single shot on goal during the period. The Devils only had six. And neither team scored. Truthfully, both teams appeared to sleepwalk through much of the period.
“It just turned into a power-play game,” Ruff explained. “There weren’t a lot of high quality chances on either side.”
13) The third period began much like the second one ended; with neither team able to muster many shots on goal.
That all changed 3:55 into the final period when Justin Braun sent a shot from the point through traffic that deflected past Daws for the 3-1 Rangers lead. The puck appeared to make contact with someone or something – according to the slo-mo video angle the puck may have hit Panarin’s stick in the slot – but replays were inconclusive, so the goal was credited to Braun. It was his first point as a Ranger.
14) Then, with 11:35 gone in the third period, Adam Fox was sent to the box for hooking Jesper Bratt. Given a chance to get back in the game the Devils again failed to record a single shot on goal with the man-advantage.
15) With the game essentially in hand the Rangers sat on their lead for the duration of the game. With 50-seconds to go, New Jersey gifted the Blueshirts a third and final power-play opportunity when Tomas Tatar tripped Frank Vatrano. But it didn’t matter.
16) Seconds later the game was over and New Jersey had dropped its third of four meetings this season to the Rangers.
New Jersey’s power-play went 0-for-2 on the night. Meanwhile the Devils went 1-for-3 on the penalty-kill…Jesper Bratt led all Devils forwards in ice time at 22:16…Damon Severson led all New Jersey defensemen in ice time at 22:58.