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Rangers roll over Devils for 8th straight; Stepan picks up a hat trick

Bobby Bevilacqua

brassard st louis and stepan 12-27

The Rangers celebrate Derek Stepan’s second goal of the night, coming in the second period on the power play in the Rangers 3-1 win. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (19-10-4) started off the second season on the right foot, defeating the Devils (12-18-7) in front of 18,006 Garden faithful by a final score of 3-1.

Derek Stepan scored all three of the Rangers goals, bringing his point total to 22 (6-16-22) in just 21 games this season. It is also the first time that the Rangers have had hat tricks in back-to-back games since Mike Gartner and Adam Graves did it in the 1994 season.

Henrik Lundqvist was very strong in net again in his 600th career NHL start, winning his seventh consecutive game and allowing just one goal on 20 shots. Lundqvist made some key saves in the third period, eventually stopping 19 and picking up his 16th win of the season.

The first period was very back and forth, with both teams struggling to establish consistent offense. Mike Cammalleri nearly scored for the Devils, but his deflection hit the post.

Late in the first period, Dominic Moore was sent to the box for holding. On the ensuing power play, the Rangers broke open the scoring with their fourth short-handed goal of the season, courtesy of Derek Stepan.

Stepan blocked a pass at the blue line, and was able to fly past the Devils defenseman for a breakaway. The puck was ahead of Stepan, and when New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider went to challenge the puck, Stepan slid the puck betweek Schneider’s legs, giving the Rangers a one goal lead at the 18:14 mark of the first period.

stepan first goal 12-27

Stepan’s first goal came on a shorthanded breakaway, putting the Rangers up 1-0 in the first period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Stepan’s second goal of the game came on the power play in the second period. Dan Boyle faked a shot before passing it to Martin St. Louis at the top of the faceoff circle. St. Louis’ one timer deflected off of the midsection of Stepan, putting the Rangers up two.

But the Devils answered back less than three minutes later. Steve Bernier was the beneficiary of some great passing by the Devils, and scored his third of the season to cut the Blueshirts lead to one. The assists went to Eric Gelinas and Tuomo Ruutu.

The score would remain the same until the end of the third period, thanks to stellar defensive play from Ryan McDonagh and the Rangers defense, as well as strong goaltending from Lundqvist. Derek Stepan scored an empty netter with :55 remaining, sealing his hat trick and a Rangers win.

lundqvist and mcdonagh 12-27

Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh both were tremendous defensively, and helped keep the Rangers ahead for the final two periods. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Stepan is the first Rangers to have a short-handed goal, a power play goal, and an even strength goal in the same game since Brendan Shanahan did it back in 2006.

In the end, it wasn’t the Rangers best game, but what is important is that they continue to find ways to win. Even when they aren’t playing their best hockey, the Rangers are still a dangerous team, something that could not be said early in the season.

The win also gave the Rangers a point in their last 12 games agains Metropolitan Division opponents, with a record of 11-0-1.

The Blueshirts also managed to extend their win streak to eight games, which is the longest streak since they won eight consecutive games, spanning from December 27, 1974 to January 11, 1975.

Henrik Lundqvist continues to play high quality hockey, allowing less than two goals for the sixth consecutive start. Lundqvist has been playing like an All-Star, and has practically been a brick wall in net for the Rangers. Lundqvist’s 16th win improved his goals allowed average to 2.34 and his save percentage to .914.

On the defensive side, all of the Rangers players played well, but Ryan McDonagh stood out tonight. The Captain was a plus-two with three blocked shots and two takeaways in 23:20 of ice time. McDonagh appears to be completely healthy, and is playing seriously strong hockey.

Dan Boyle picked up an assist on Stepan’s power play goal, giving him four points (2-2-4) this season. All four have come on the power play, and Boyle has really helped the Ranger special teams improve as of late.

Martin St. Louis had another very strong game. St. Louis had two assists, putting him at 26 points (11-15-26) for the season, which is second on the team. St. Louis was also very strong on the forecheck against the Devils, creating numerous opportunities for himself and his teammates.

martin st louis 12-27

Martin St. Louis turned in another solid performance, picking up two assists in the win over the devils. St. Louis is second on the team with 26 points. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

And finally, Derek Stepan was clearly the star of the night. Stepan’s three goals gives him six for the season, and continues his strong play since his return. Stepan has been a pint-per-game player since returning from his fractured leg, has strengthened the Rangers special teams, as well as provide another scoring threat, all while continuously setting up players like Nash and St. Louis for goal opportunities.

The Rangers will head to Texas for their next game, where they will face the Dallas Stars (15-14-5), who have won six of their last eight games. Tyler Seguin and Rick Nash will also face off for the first time this season. Seguin leads the league in goals with 25, but Rick Nash is not far behind.

THREE STARS

1) Derek Stepan – 3 G, +2, 3 TK

2) Henrik Lundqvist – 19 SV, .950 SV%

3) Martin St. Louis – 2 A, +1, 2 BS

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Posted on December 28, 2014, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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