It wasn’t easy for the New York Rangers. Once again they jumped out to a lead only to let up and see the Devils come back. This time, New Jersey actually tied the contest but a Mika Zibanejad power play goal late in the third period salvaged the victory.
The Blueshirts completed the four game sweep of their cross-river rivals and stay within four points of the Bruins who defeated the first place Capitals earlier in the day.
Rangers vs Devils: Another Birthday Boy does it
Yesterday, Pavel Buchnevich notched a hat-trick for his birthday. Today, Mika Zibanejad celebrated his 28th birthday by scoring the game winning goal on the power play. “We’ve got to take care of business and win our own games,” he said afterwards. “I mean we’re in it – we’re just trying to keep winning games and give us our best chance to make the playoffs.”
The Rangers number one center finished the day with a goal and an assist to propel the Blueshirts to the eventual 5-3 win that came with plenty of drama. Chris Kreider closed the scoring in the last game then opened up the tally sheet with his 19th goal of the season on the power play, assisted by Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.
Then the Blueshirts kids did some damage by getting a beautiful marker from Vitali Kravtsov for his first NHL goal. Alexis Lafrenière followed that up with a hard-nosed drive to the net tally set up by Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil. It was a dirty goal that Alexis paid for when Matt Tennyson checked him hard into Mackenzie Blackwood while he started to celebrate. The kid looked sore getting up but could be seen smiling on the bench knowing how huge the goal was at the time.
Alexandar Georgiev played a strong game after a long layoff. He was in a groove but suffered an injury late in the first period. He left the game unable to walk with Shesterkin spelling him for the final minutes. Head coach David Quinn said the issue had happened in the past but he was fine and ready to go for the start of the second. Georgiev also told reporters he had to have his knee popped back into place.
Alex looked solid in his return but a late goal by Mikhail Maltsev started the comeback for New Jersey. Two more quick strikes tied the game in the third period as the Devils carried over the momentum. The Blueshirts net-minder then held his ground finishing the contest with 25 saves.
The Rangers would get back to work after the Devils tied it playing with urgency the rest of the way. A high stick to Kakko’s face by Ryan Murray sealed the Devils fate as the Blueshirts got the birthday boy winner. Ryan Strome ended the scoring with an awarded empty net goal.
“I know I’ve said this throughout this whole thing and it’s not just coach talk – Buffalo just beat Pittsburgh today, so these are not going to be easy games,” David Quinn said about playing teams like the Devils and Sabres. “We found a way to get it done. Playing a team four times in a row and you come out with for wins, I don’t care what it looks like…you find ways to win. That said, it’s not lost on us – we’ve got to play better.”
Rangers Post Game Notes
- The Blueshirts have earned at least one point in 10 of the last 11 games (8-1-2 record), in 13 of the last 16 games (11-3-2 record), and in 16 of the last 20 games (13-4-3 record).
- The Blueshirts recorded five goals in today’s contest. The Rangers have tallied three or more goals in 12 of the last 16 games and in 15 of the last 20 games.
- Ryan Strome tallied two points (one goal, one assist), including the primary assist on the game-winning goal. He has recorded a point in 16 of the last 20 games (five goals, 21 assists), including an assist in 15 of the last 19 contests, and he has posted a multi-point game in each of the last three games (two goals, five assists). Strome has tallied a point in 20 of the Rangers’ 23 wins this season.
- Vitali Kravtsov recorded his first career NHL goal. The Rangers have posted a 6-1-2 record in nine games Kravtsov has played this season.
- Alexis Lafrenière tallied a goal. He has registered six points (four goals, two assists) in the last 14 games. The Rangers have posted an 11-2-0 record in games which Lafrenière has recorded a point this season, including a 7-1-0 record in games which he has tallied a goal. He has tallied six of his eight goals this season/in his NHL career on the road.
- Adam Fox tallied a power play assist on the game-winning goal and skated in a team-high 27:34 of ice time. He has led the Rangers in ice time in 36 of the team’s 45 games this season (including 36 of the 44 games which he has played). Fox has recorded a point in 15 of the last 18 games (three goals, 23 assists).
The Rangers have a scheduled day off tomorrow. Their next game is Tuesday, Apr. 20 at NY Islanders (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG 2).