NEWARK, N.J. — The mistakes made by the New York Rangers on Saturday — and there were many — turned out to be the exact moments that set up the Blueshirts to come away with a victory against their crosstown rival.
Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast scored shorthanded goals just 3:17 apart early in the third period to break open a tense first 40 minutes in the Rangers’ 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon. Alexandar Georgiev made 33 saves to record his first shutout of the season as the Rangers have recorded at least a point in five straight games (4-0-1).
Although they found themselves shorthanded eight times, the Rangers killed off all of New Jersey’s extra-strength opportunities while turning the game on its head by putting in two third-period shorthanded goals — one during a four-minute double minor and the other during a five-minute major infraction.
“Certainly not the way you draw up winning the hockey game, taking that many penalties and having that many penalty minutes to kill,” said New York Rangers head coach David Quinn. “Just so proud of our guys, the way we found a way to win. Really gutted it out, stood tall on our penalty kill.”
New York, up 1-0 after one period on an Adam Fox power play goal, took five of its eight penalties in the second period, with the final infraction a double minor for high-sticking on Libor Hajek in the final minute that eventually carried over into the third. Zibanejad, however, started a 2-on-1 break during the penalty kill and eventually buried a pass from Brendan Lemieux past Devils goalkeeper MacKenzie Blackwood to double New York’s advantage.
Less than three minutes after Zibanejad’s goal, New York found itself a man down after Chris Kreider received a five-minute major for boarding the Devils’ Matt Tennyson.
But again, being a man down actually was to the Rangers’ advantage, as New York converted a 3-on-1 break after a blocked shot, with Fast sniping home a pass from Zibanejad just 31 seconds after Kreider’s penalty to end the competitive nature of the contest.
“Obviously we don’t want to take this many penalties but we did a good job,” said Zibanejad, who was playing in his third game back after missing 13 with an injury. “Even to start the third with a double minor. We hung in there. We stayed with our structure. We didn’t give them that many chances.”
Brady Skjei added an empty-net goal to cap off the scoring at 17:18, the only goal New York scored while not on its special teams.