|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|NJD||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||8|
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
In a wild, high-scoring affair at the Prudential Center on Friday night, the Rangers erased a four-goal deficit only to surrender the final three goals of the game in an 8-5 defeat at the hands of the Devils.
“We scored five goals, and that should win you a hockey game,” said Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “The fact of the matter is we had to expend a lot of energy doing that and then we fell back into bad lapses on defense, and it cost us.”
The victory was New Jersey’s first in regulation against the Rangers over the past two seasons. The Rangers had been 9-0-1 in their last 10 regular season matches against the Devils entering Friday night’s game.
The Devils, who have won nine of their last 10 games, received a pair of goals from Travis Zajac and a goal and three assists from Brian Gionta. Zach Parise also contributed four assists to the winning effort for the Devils.
“They’re a good team,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “But I think we made them better than they really are.”
The Rangers climbed out of a 5-1 hole at the 11:33 mark of the second period to pull within 5-4 on Paul Mara’s goal 1:28 into the third period. Zherdev and Gomez had started the comeback with scores late in the middle stanza. Mara drove a slap shot through Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen for his second goal of the season to bring the Rangers within a goal early in the final period.
Ryan Callahan then capped the Rangers’ comeback and tied the game 5-5 at 11:18 of the third. Callahan snapped a shot from a bad angle on left wing that somehow snuck under Clemmensen’s arm and into the cage for his eighth goal.
However, the stirring rally forged by the Rangers came to a crashing halt when the Devils responded with a pair of quick goals shortly after Callahan’s score. Patrick Elias scored 11 seconds after Callahan and then assisted on Gionta’s goal at 13:04 to restore New Jersey’s two-goal lead.
“The goal that got them to 6-5 was a big goal,” noted Rangers captain Chris Drury, who had a pair of assists in the contest. “We needed to keep it 5-5 for a few shifts to maintain momentum, but we just couldn’t do it.”
New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner sent a shot past the beleaguered Lundqvist at 15:07 to remove any doubt as to the result of the contest.
“Eight goals for a goalie is not a lot of fun,” said Lundqvist. “We had some problems in our own zone obviously, and they found a lot of openings tonight. We made it pretty easy for them. But the bottom line is that I have to be better.”
The Devils seemingly took firm control of the contest by scoring three straight goals in the second period to increase their 2-1 lead to 5-1 midway through. However, the Rangers clawed their way back into the match by potting a pair of goals late in the period to cut their deficit to 5-3 before the second intermission.
Zajac scored his second of the night -- and seventh of the season -- just one minute into the middle stanza to start the early domination of the period by the Devils. Johnny Oduya slipped a shorthanded goal under a prone Lundqvist at 7:31, after Gionta’s heavy slap shot had clanged off the far post, to up New Jersey’s lead to 4-1.
The shorthanded goal was the second allowed by the Rangers on Friday night, and the league-high 10th surrendered by the club this season. The Rangers finished the evening 0-for-9 on the power play.
The Devils continued to pounce on the reeling Rangers with one great scoring chance after another. Lundqvist was under siege, and he was able to make several spectacular saves in an attempt to keep his club in the game. But at 11:33, Dainius Zubrus was all alone in the slot to fire home the rebound of his own left wing shot for his eighth goal, and the Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole.
Renney called timeout at that juncture to try and settle his team down. But after the timeout, it was the Devils who still had the better of the play, and Lundqvist was called on to make some more big saves.
“The mood was desperation, but it was also real clear that we wanted to get ourselves back in this hockey game,” Renney explained of his calling timeout.
The tide began to turn at 15:46 of the second when Zherdev scored his 10th goal of the season. Gomez won an offensive zone face-off in the right wing circle, and Zherdev swooped in to collect the puck. Zherdev then sped around the net, his wraparound shot eluded Clemmensen, and the Rangers’ comeback was on.
Gomez cut the deficit to two before the second period was over by scoring his sixth goal -- and second in as many games. Gomez collected the rebound of a Zherdev shot after shoving hulking defenseman Colin White off the puck and zipped it past Clemmensen to cut the Devils lead to 5-3 at 18:22.
What seemed improbable only a few minutes before suddenly seemed possible as the Rangers had regained the momentum and seemed poised to pull off a tremendous comeback.
A spirited first period, which featured a pair of fights, several big hits, and a touch of controversy, ended with the Devils holding a 2-1 lead.
New Jersey jumped out to a 1-0 advantage, scoring a shorthanded goal 4:04 into the contest. Only eight seconds after Bobby Holik was penalized for interference, the Devils capitalized on a Rangers giveaway in the neutral zone. John Madden led a 2-on-1 rush up left wing, fed the puck to Jay Pandolfo, and the veteran winger sent a wrist shot off Lundqvist’s left skate and into the net.
Several minutes later Colton Orr gave the Rangers a lift when he dropped the gloves and squared off with New Jersey’s Mike Rupp. Though the 6-foot-5-inch Rupp had a clear reach advantage, Orr held his own with both pugilists landing some big blows en-route to five-minute fighting majors at 11:56.
However that fight was just a prelim for the main event that took place at 14:54. Right off a face-off at center ice, Aaron Voros and New Jersey’s David Clarkson engaged in an angry battle which saw each player give and take several thunderous punches. The helmets of both players were popped off on rousing right-hand punches. And after the fight, Clarkson barked at Voros as the linesmen kept the combatants separated.
The Rangers pulled even on the scoreboard one minute later on a goal by Markus Naslund. The play evolved as Gomez skated deep into the offensive zone on left wing before centering a pass towards Naslund, who had a step on the backchecking Zubrus. Naslund swung his stick at the bouncing puck and missed, only to have it deflect off his right skate and past a diving Clemmensen at 15:54.
The referee immediately waved off the goal, but did call for a video review. After several minutes it was decided that Naslund did not use a distinct kicking motion with his foot, and, thus, was credited with his team-high 11th goal of the season to tie the score 1-1.
The Devils, though, answered right back and regained the lead on Zajac’s first goal of the night at 16:59. Elias made the play with a beautiful pass across the crease from right to left on to the stick of a wide-open Zajac. The Devils’ winger fired the puck past a sprawling Lundqvist for a power play goal, and the Devils were back on top 2-1.
For two defensive-minded teams, three goals scored in one period seemed like quite a lot. But that was nothing compared to what they had in store for the final 40 minutes of action.
“It was a track meet and something I think both teams wanted to avoid,” said Renney.
The Rangers will look to regroup as they are right back in action Saturday night with a home contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, their final game at The Garden before next week’s three-game swing through California.
|SHG - Jay Pandolfo (3) ASST: John Madden (6), Bryce Salvador (4)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Markus Naslund (11) ASST: Scott Gomez (14), Nikolay Zherdev (17)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Travis Zajac (6) ASST: Patrik Elias (15), Zach Parise (14)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Travis Zajac (7) ASST: Zach Parise (15), Jamie Langenbrunner (13)|
3 - 1 NJD
|SHG - Johnny Oduya (2) ASST: Brian Gionta (15), Zach Parise (16)|
4 - 1 NJD
|Dainius Zubrus (8) ASST: Brian Gionta (16)|
5 - 1 NJD
|Nikolay Zherdev (10) ASST: Scott Gomez (15)|
5 - 2 NJD
|Scott Gomez (6) ASST: Nikolay Zherdev (18), Markus Naslund (13)|
5 - 3 NJD
|Paul Mara (2) ASST: Chris Drury (8)|
5 - 4 NJD
|Ryan Callahan (8) ASST: Nikolay Zherdev (19), Chris Drury (9)|
5 - 5 Tie
|Patrik Elias (12) ASST: Dainius Zubrus (10), Brian Gionta (17)|
6 - 5 NJD
|Brian Gionta (8) ASST: Dainius Zubrus (11), Patrik Elias (16)|
7 - 5 NJD
|Jamie Langenbrunner (5) ASST: Zach Parise (17), Bobby Holik (1)|
8 - 5 NJD
|Bobby Holik Interference against Paul Mara|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Slashing against Ryan Callahan|
|Aaron Voros Tripping against Colin White|
|Brian Rolston Hooking against Fredrik Sjostrom|
|Mike Rupp Fighting against Colton Orr|
|Colton Orr Fighting against Mike Rupp|
|Aaron Voros Fighting against David Clarkson|
|David Clarkson Fighting against Aaron Voros|
|Markus Naslund Hooking against Brian Gionta|
|Dan Girardi Fighting against Travis Zajac|
|Travis Zajac Fighting against Dan Girardi|
|Dmitri Kalinin Slashing against Jay Pandolfo|
|Mike Rupp Hi-sticking against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Mike Rupp Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Mike Rupp|
|Bobby Holik Interference against Lauri Korpikoski|
|Zach Parise Slashing against Paul Mara|
|Mike Mottau Holding against Fredrik Sjostrom|
|Dmitri Kalinin Interference against Mike Rupp|
|Brian Rolston Holding against Chris Drury|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Fighting against Ryan Callahan|
|Ryan Callahan Fighting against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|John Madden Cross checking against Aaron Voros|
|Paul Martin Slashing against Colton Orr|
|Colton Orr Cross checking against Paul Martin|
|SA: 34||TOI: 59:50|
|Saves: 26||EV: 21 - 26|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .765||SH: 2 - 4|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 31||EV: 22 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 9 - 9|
|SV%: .861||SH: 0 - 0|