Rangers rally past Devils for memorable 4-3 win

NHL: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that featured a line brawl at its start and 166 combined penalty minutes, the New York Rangers rallied for a memorable 4-3 win against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers erased a one-goal deficit in the third period on Kaapo Kakko’s game-tying goal and Chris Kreider’s game-winner. It was New York’s 25th comeback victory this season.

Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and assist for the Rangers, who swept the season series against the Devils. Igor Shesterkin made 17 saves.

Jesper Bratt had two assists for the Devils and Kaapo Kahkonen made 37 saves.

Matt Rempe was back in the Rangers lineup after being a healthy scratch the past three games and was one of 10 players to engage in a fight after the opening face-off. He fought Kurtis MacDermid in a wild scene that included Rangers coach Peter Laviolette and his Devils counterpart Travis Green screaming at each other.

“Our guys, they stuck together tonight,” Laviolette said. “In the end, the guys on the ice in the third period fought hard for the guys that fought earlier. It was a real positive.”

Related: Matt Rempe, Rangers open Devils game with wild line brawl

New York Rangers 4 — New Jersey Devils 3

NHL: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

This one got off to a rollicking start when all 10 skaters engaged in fights just two seconds after the opening face-off. The much anticipated heavyweight bout between Rempe and MacDermid was the Main Event and left both forwards exhausted after its marathon length.

All 10 players received fighting majors and eight of those were assessed game misconducts as well. So, the Rangers had to play the entire game without two of their top-four defensemen (Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller) and a pair of fourth-line forwards (Rempe and Barclay Goodrow). The Devils lost defensemen Kevin Bahl and John Marino, and forwards Chris Tierney and MacDermid.

It was the third time in as many games against the Devils that Rempe was ejected this season. Most recently, Rempe received a match penalty and eventually a four-game suspension for elbowing Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler on March 11. That was a big reason this game started the way it did.

The only players allowed to remain in the game after all the fights were Jimmy Vesey and Curtis Lazar, since theirs was the first fight and by rule all others that followed were subject to game misconducts.

“We’re not trying to make a mockery out there,” Adam Fox said. “It’s just guys having each others’ backs”

A few minutes later, Will Cuylle rammed former Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith into the wall and was assessed a boarding minor at 4:27. He then was challenged by New Jersey’s Dawson Mercer and a sixth fight took place, with Mercer also receiving an instigating minor and 10-minute misconduct.

When the teams got down to playing hockey, the Rangers dominated the first period. Panarin scored his 45th goal at 9:22 and Lafreniere potted his 26th at 18:03 to put the Blueshirts up 2-0. Each goal was scored after Kahkonen left a big rebound.

The Rangers outshot the Devils 15-4 in the first period but lost their momentum in the second when New Jersey scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead.

Ondrej Palat scored at 2:11 after a brilliant move and pass by Jack Hughes turned Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren into a pretzel. Smith then tied it at 9:53, cruising untouched down the middle before burying a feed from Bratt.

Laviolette used his timeout at that point and delivered an animated message to the Rangers. It didn’t help.

Nico Hischier crept in behind Lindgren to one-time a no-look backhand pass from Bratt at 11:24 to put the Rangers in a 3-2 hole. The Devils opened the second period by scoring three goals on seven shots and carried their one-goal lead into the intermission.

The Rangers, though, took advantage of a break early in the third period to tie the score, 3-3. Devils defenseman Luke Hughes broke his stick on a shot attempt from the Rangers blue line and the puck went directly to Kakko. The Rangers forward raced the other way and rifled his 13th goal over Kahkonen’s glove from the left circle on the rush to tie things up at 5:32.

Skating on the power-play, the Rangers nearly regained the lead at 14:04 when Panarin’s left-wing blast hit Kahkonen flush on the side of his mask. Kahkonen remained in the game after being checked out by the Devils trainer and surrendered a power-play goal 59 seconds later.

Kreider deflected a Fox pass into the cage for his 36th goal and third in the past four games to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead. It was Kreider’s 107th power-play goal, moving him past Brian Leetch for sole possession of third most in Rangers history.

Erik Gustafsson returned after missing four games with an upper-body injury and led the Rangers with 29:42 in ice time. Fox, who had two assists, played 29:39 with the Rangers forced to rotate only four defensemen for the game.

Next up for the Rangers is a road game at the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

Mentioned in this article:

More About: