The New York Rangers have historically used Madison Square Garden as one of the loudest and most intense home-ice advantages in hockey.
It sure didn’t sound that way Monday night.
The Rangers blew an early two-goal lead and dropped their third game in a row, this time to their rival New Jersey Devils by a final score of 5-3.
“They (the Devils) are a good team, they are a fast team. They put pressure on you and they capitalized on a few turnovers. I thought we played really well through the first six and then let down a little bit.” Rangers’ head coach Gerard Gallant said afterward.
Much like how both teams like to play, the scoring was fast-paced and unrelenting. Artemi Panarin ended his goalless streak of 12 games when he and Filip Chytil connected on a strong two-on-one opportunity 1:20 into the contest. Mika Zibanejad would then find the back of the net just two minutes later off a poorly played rebound by Devils goaltender, Vitek Vanecek.
The 2-0 Rangers lead, like many leads in recent weeks, went away quickly.
New Jersey’s high-powered offense got back in the game when Tomas Tatar would find the back of the net to cut the deficit to one, and Yegor Sharanovich would tie the game late in the first period off a turnover from Jacob Trouba.
“We’re turning the puck over and it’s ending up in our net. There are mistakes we can’t make.” Trouba told reporters after the game.
The score would remain tied into the second period when the Devils’ offense flexed their muscle. Jack Hughes, the former first overall pick for the Devils gave Jersey the lead early in the second period on a breakaway. Michael McLeod would later add to the total with a rebound goal off of Shesterkin as well.
With New Jersey’s offense on the run, the usual strong home crowd at MSG became docile to the visiting Devils fanbase making the trip across the Hudson River. After McLeod scored, loud jeering chants rained down on the hometown Rangers and their reigning Vezina-winning goalie.
“The goalie played shit again. I’m ashamed.” Shesterkin said the game. While Shesterkin took personal blame for the loss, his teammates and coaches felt different.
“We had a decent push in the third period, but we can’t play like that the first two periods and expect to win.” Ryan Lindgren explained. “We keep saying we got to play a full 60, but you just can’t keep talking about it. We got to go out there and do it.”
The Rangers would get some life late in the third period when Vincent Trocheck scored his eighth goal of the season on a powerplay and cut the deficit to one. In the end, it wasn’t enough to tip the scale of momentum, as the Rangers plummeted even further as the calendar turns to December. An empty net goal by Sharangovich would ice the game and seal New York’s fate.
The loss dropped the Rangers to 10-9-4 and in fifth place in the Metro division. New Jersey, on the other hand, moved to 19-4 atop of the Eastern Conference.
- New Jersey made NHL history Monday night. Their win over the Rangers was the 13th for the team in the month of November, the most in NHL History. Eight different teams had achieved 12 wins in November previously.
- Vitali Kravtsov was a healthy scratch for an eighth straight game. Gallant mentioned that he was comfortable with his current lines, but the former first-round pick is now missing valuable ice time he could be using to get used to the NHL speed. Kravtsov has appeared in just six games this season.
- There was speculation if Ryan Lindgren would be even able to play Monday after leaving Saturday’s contest with an upper-body injury. That speculation was killed in warmups when the Rangers’ top defender helped lead the team onto the ice but couldn’t help stop the Devil’s relentless offense.