Alexis Lafrenière scores shorthanded but Rangers outplayed by Devils 5-2
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils renewed acquaintances at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. On hand was Alexis Lafrenière, who took a slapshot off the foot in Boston and hobbled his way in pain to the bench.
“It was fine after the game,” Lafrenière said. “I’ll be in the lineup. I feel good and I’m ready to play everywhere (left or right wing).”
Despite the Blueshirts opening up the game with a beautiful shorthanded goal, it was all Devils in this contest. For whatever reason, New Jersey’s speed gave most of the Rangers fits and kept them off balance the entire game.
“I’m glad it’s game three (of the preseason) and not five and six,” Gerard Gallant said afterwards. “Sloppy. We had a tough, tough game.”
Recap: Devils 5 vs Rangers 2
The Devils came out running with a little extra jump in their step against the Rangers getting a few early opportunities against Igor Shesterkin, who turned them away. Unfortunately, the Devils pressure led to the first penalty of the game when Shesterkin came out of the crease to play the puck and tripped up Tomas Tatar.
Just 14 seconds after the penalty at the 5:46 mark, Chris Kreider converted a 2 on 1 feed from Adam Fox for the shorthanded goal past Vitek Vanecek. Mika Zibanejad picked up the other assist on the play.
New Jersey was not dissuaded by the goal as they continued to press the Rangers, who were sloppy with the puck all period.
In the matter of 41 seconds, the Devils would take the lead on two 4 on 4 goals. First, it was Miles Wood burning Matt Bartkowski with his speed to tie it. That was followed by Dougie Hamilton taking advantage of lackluster d-zone coverage to give Jersey the lead with 3:18 remaining.
Sammy Blais shook off the rust in his first game since November 14 playing 3:45 in the period and being credited for one hit.
“I’m just happy to be back playing the game I love,” Sammy Blais said on MSG Networks. “I was a little nervous but after the first shift I got a couple of hits and I felt pretty good after that.”
The Rangers reset themselves in the middle frame and started protecting the puck and making smarter plays. However, they still had issues with the Devils’ speed and were eventually burned by it again.
This time it was Nathan Bastian streaking from the left side in tight with Devils crashing the net. He caught Shesterkin off his angle and beat him over the glove for a 3-1 lead at 14:56.
Shesterkin’s night would mercifully come to and with 22 saves on 25 shots through 40 minutes of play.
The Rangers Kid Line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Lafrenière put some pressure on early in the period, but could not get one behind Vanecek to make this a contest.
“It helped for sure. We had a good postseason and played well as a line,” Lafrenière said about the Kid Line. “It’s good to be together again.”
Jersey kept the skating tempo high firing shot after shot on the Rangers goal and picked up an insurance tally with 13:58 remaining. Tomas Tatar skated into the slot firing a backhand over Olaf Lindbom for a 4-1 lead.
The head coach said that he would experiment with Lafrenière on the PK in the preseason. Well, the experiment looked pretty good when the Rangers first overall pick created a turnover and then powered his way for a shorthanded goal.
“I’m still trying to learn the (PK) system and Kaapo is a good killer too,” Lafrenière said. “It was nice to get it but too late.”
In the end, it was a little too late for the Blueshirts who also gave up an Erik Haula empty net goal to fall 5-2. All things considered, after being outshot 36 to 17, the scored could’ve been worse.
These same two teams will play Friday night in New Jersey.
- Igor Shesterkin stopped 22 of 25 shots
- Chris Kreider recorded his 2nd goal of the preseason
- Alexis Lafreniere notched his 2nd goal of the preseason
- Sammy Blais played 13:31 and registered 4 hits
Tomorrow (Friday, September 30): Game group skate at Prudential Center (11:30 AM) & non-game group skate at MSG Training Center (11:30 AM)
Next Game: Friday, September 30 at New Jersey Devils (7:00 PM – TV: MSG)
*Schedule subject to change
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