New York Rangers ready to try and stop Devils hot offense
The New Jersey Devils have been on a goal scoring binge of late, which will present a challenge for the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight.
If the Devils jump out in front early, the Rangers are unlikely to wilt. More than half of the New York Rangers’ 34 wins this season have required some kind of a comeback.
That type of ability to recover is among the reasons the Rangers haven’t lost more than two regulation games in a row this season.
New York Rangers are the Comeback Kids
After recovering from a tough two-plus minutes late in the second period of their most recent game, the Rangers will look to take another step forward Friday when they host the New Jersey Devils.
New York’s 18 comeback wins are tied for the league lead entering action on Thursday.
The Rangers earned their latest comeback win on Wednesday with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
New York held a 2-0 lead on goals by Alexis Lafreniere and Ryan Strome before allowing three tallies on as many shots in a span of 2:14 in the second period. The Rangers, however, responded with three goals in the third period to avoid a season-high third consecutive regulation loss.
“Stuff like that happens when you have character on your team, good leadership,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said. “They find a way and they dug down in between periods.”
Chris Kreider scored the tiebreaking goal on the power play with 8:20 remaining in the third period. Kreider has 35 goals on the season and a league-leading 18 on the power play.
“Being able to dig in and doing whatever it takes to win hockey games,” Kreider said. “Being able to find our game, being able to forget about a bad shift or a bad period, not let it stack, not let the frustration overcome us.”
Streaking Devils invade MSG
One of New York’s comeback wins at home occurred against New Jersey on Nov. 14.
The Rangers allowed the first goal to Jesper Bratt, squandered a pair of one-goal leads and earned a 4-3 win after Kreider scored the deciding goal in the seventh round of the shootout.
New Jersey mustered 12 goals during a seven-game skid from Jan. 23-Feb. 7 before erupting for 40 during its past eight contests (4-4-0).
The Devils have scored 21 goals in the past four games since Dougie Hamilton returned from missing over a month following jaw surgery. Jack Hughes also came back from the health and safety protocol.
Hamilton has a goal and two assists in the past four games, while Hughes has nine points (three goals, six assists).
The Rangers have won the past seven meetings against the Devils, including six by at least two goals.
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Rangers injury updates
The New York Rangers announced on Thursday that center Kevin Rooney is on IR and is considered week-to-week. In addition, the team has recalled forward Tim Gettinger in response to the news.
Rooney, 28, has 11 points in 51 games this season and has been an integral part of the Blueshirts’ physical fourth line with Ryan Reaves. The injury apparently occurred in the first period, but after a brief shift in the second, he left the game unable to return.
The tenacious checker is on IR with an upper-body injury likely giving Morgan Barron an extended look.
“Week-to-week basically,” Gallant said. “I don’t know much to be honest with you but it’s definitely week-to-week.”
With regards to Kaapo Kakko, he is still weeks away with an apparent wrist injury.
“He’s getting closer but still a ways away,” Gallant updated. “Another few weeks for sure. I don’t have a date. The first time I said to you guys ‘four weeks’ but it’s going to be more than that.”
Kakko, 20, last played on January 21 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Television cameras caught Kakko wincing in a lot of pain and discomfort at the end of the second period as he was flexing his his left arm.
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–Field Level Media contributed to this report