New York Rangers show up and force Game 7 against Devils

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Apr 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates with left wing Chris Kreider (20) after scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

One more game.

That was the mantra for every member of the New York Rangers as they came up big in the face of elimination. After finding themselves down early again, this team buckled down and found a way to break through the Devils’ aggressive play and young goalie Akira Schmid.

Goals by Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Vladimir Tarasenko set up a third period where the Rangers dominated. Barclay Goodrow and Braden Schneider also joined the party with Igor Shesterkin stopping 32 of 34 shots.

“We played a better game,” captain Jacob Trouba said. “This was the first one, but it won’t mean much if we don’t win the next one. We’ve been in this spot before and we know what it takes. Season is on the line and everyone has to bring their A game.”

New York Rangers force Game 7

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Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Early on the Rangers looked like they were in for another rough night. When Curtis Lazar was left all alone down low to put home a rebound, it gave the Devils even more energy.

Shesterkin, who hasn’t allowed more than 3 goals in a playoff contest since Game 4 of the first-round against the Pittsburgh Penguins was brilliant. Every time the Devils got a chance, he thwarted them and added to their frustration.

The game turned around with Dawson Mercer in the box for tripping Patrick Kane at 19:06 mark. It didn’t take long for the Blueshirts to convert as Zibanejad’s shot went off the leg of Kreider for his 16th career goal in an elimination match.

In the second period, New York kept the pressure on and were eventually rewarded. This time it was Zibanejad converting a Kreider pass from behind the net over Schmid’s glove for his first of the postseason.

The most important goal of the night came off the stick of Tarasenko with just 1:35 left in the middle fame. Once again, it was Kreider finding the open man who came down the middle and snapped it over Schmid’s glove.

“Hockey is a game that can change very fast,” Tarasenko said during the MSG post game. “There was a lot of pressure but you need to have belief.”

The Rangers kept the Devils at bay in the third period and were able to transition from defense to offense quickly.

That led to an odd-man rush with Jimmy Vesey getting a shot on goal that Schmid struggled to handle allowing Goodrow to tap in a puck suspended in mid-air at 7:23.

Schneider capped the Rangers scoring with a rip from the blue-line that slightly deflected off a Devils’ defender’s stick with less than 8 minutes to go.

Mercer notched a late power play goal but the Rangers had the game well in hand by that point.

“The guys stepped up,” Gerard Gallant noted. “When your back is against the wall you play your best game and they did tonight.”

New York will now look to win a Game 7 in New Jersey on Monday night. The game will air on MSG and starts at 7 pm if the Los Angeles Kings force a Game 7 tonight. If not, puck drop will be at 8 pm.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore