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Rangers stumble in New Jersey without Staal and Miller; Hrivik records first career point

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Devils 2-23

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

On the first game of their three game road trip, Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant but the Rangers (34-20-6) were dominated by the New Jersey Devils (30-24-7) for the last 40 minutes, losing 5-2 and losing their third game this season to their rivals in Newark.

This game had everything. Lots of action and scoring chances early on, some great performances from each of the goaltenders, and goals galore. Plus an ejection for having tape too low on the hands (more on that later).

The Rangers wound up being without Marc Staal in this game after he tweaked something in his lower body. Brady Skjei was recalled from Hartford and he played pretty darn well, logging over 22 minutes of ice time.

The first period started with both teams flying, skating fluidly up and down the ice and generating a lot of scoring chances. The Rangers had a great start, attempting eight shots in the first few minutes but getting just one shot on goal.

Kevin Klein got a great chance early on, firing a one-timer just wide of the net from the faceoff circle. Derek Stepan also came close to scoring, quickly shooting off of a rebound and striking the far goal post.

Despite that strong start for the Rangers, it was the Devils scoring the first goal of the game. In his first game back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch, Damon Severson sent a shot on goal that was deflected by Tyler Kennedy and into the net, opening the scoring just over four minutes into the game.

The Rangers didn’t wait long to answer as Kevin Hayes scored his 11th goal of the season, and his fourth in the past seven games. Hayes started it off with a nice play in front of the net, sending Viktor Stalberg on the rush. Stalberg used his speed to beat his defender and send a shot on net, forcing Schneider to make a save. Hayes followed up the play and sent the rebound into the open net, tying the game at one.

But the Blueshirts didn’t stop there. Just 45 seconds later, Dominic Moore scored his sixth goal of the season to give the Rangers the lead at 9:02 of the opening period. Marek Hrivik sent the puck to Keith Yandle at the point, and Yandle made a remarkable pass to Moore for a redirection in front of the net.

Vigneault said he wanted more from the fourth line and from Dom Moore, and this was a good start. Hrivik played four and a half minutes and picked up his first NHL point, and Moore scored a big goal in the first period. Without Paille, the line is already better.

Both teams had a few more chance throughout the period, and the Devils wound up outshooting the Rangers 11-8, but the Rangers had a lot of shot attempts that didn’t count. Stepan hit the outside of the post again, and Kreider, who played well in the first, nearly had a wrister sneak through Schneider.

The second period was horrible. The Rangers gave up a mind-blowing amount of shots and scoring chances, surrendered two goals and didn’t pose much of a threat in the offensive zone. New Jersey outshot the Rangers 17-5, and the Blueshirts only had two good chances.

Lundqvist was outstanding in this period. He started off the period with a great save on Adam Henrique on one of the seven New Jersey odd man rushes. His best save may have been a sprawling glove save on Palmieri later in the period, and he also denied John Moore on the breakaway.

The Devils got a power play after Zuccarello was sent to the box for tripping, and they would convert. The Rangers were defending the power play too low below the goal line, Palmieri scored on a feed from Joseph Blandisi, tying the game at two.

JT Miller almost scored a goal to give the Rangers their lead back, but Corey Schneider made an amazing save, sticking his stick out and deflecting Miller’s shot away from the net. That was the best chance for New York in this period, and Schneider made the stop.

On a long shift in the Rangers zone after they struggled to clear the puck, former Ranger Lee Stempniak scored for the third time in this season series on a controversial play. Stempniak cross-checked Zuccarello as he tried to play the puck, but there was no call. Then Stempniak was set up by Blandisi and sent a one-timer past Henrik to give the Devils the lead.

At the end of the period, JT Miller dropped the gloves with Sergey Kalinin. After the fight, which took place with one second left in the period, Miller was assessed a five minute major and a match penalty because there was tape on his hand below his wrist. It’s a rule, but it’s a stupid one.

The tape wasn’t over Miller’s knuckles, so it had absolutely no impact on the fight and it couldn’t hurt or cut Kalinin, so the fact that he was ejected blew my mind. The tape is there in case the player gets slashed and it is an attempt to deter fractures or breaks. The NHL could care less about properly patrolling the hits to the head and the elbows, but god forbid you have tape below your wrist.

The penalty was assessed because Kalinin was cut on the play, but it looked like it was his visor that caused the cut, not the tape on Miller’s hand and palm (obviously). So it didn’t have an impact. Also, Kalinin had a soft cast around his hand and wrist (the rule says any other material) but I guess that doesn’t matter. If only Miller was incidentally cut by something.

The Rangers trailed 3-2 and were being outshot 28-13 after two periods.

The Rangers did a good job killing off JT Miller’s five minute major penalty, but they were shorthanded one more time after that. Not much happened in terms of offense for the Rangers here. Sergey Kalinin would score the Devil’s fourth goal of the game, and Adam Larsson scored into the empty netter to seal the win for New Jersey.

Alain Vigneault was without Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Rick Nash, and then JT Miller for the final 20:01. This isn’t that concerning of a loss. The Rangers ate 7-2-1 in their last 10 and still in a good position.

However, if there is one thing to be concerned about, it would be the PP regressing and playing poorly when the Devils scored their second goal. Also, they continue to struggle on the road (12-14-3) and they have a hard time playing well away from MSG. maybe it’s psychological, but it needs to change.

The Rangers are back at it Thursday night in St. Louis against the Blues.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 31 SV, .886 SV%

2) Kevin Hayes – 1 G, 4 SOG, 2 HT, 13:29 TOT

3) Brady Skjei – 22:17 TOT

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Posted on February 24, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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