Rangers gave Devils their due in last meeting, look to even things up
The New York Rangers jumped out a 2-0 lead on home ice against the New Jersey Devils in their first regular-season meeting on November 28. Things were looking good until the Devils started using their speed and the Blueshirts fragile confidence wilted like a wet noodle en route to a 5-3 loss.
It marked a three-game losing streak that sent the Rangers out of a playoff spot. Despite a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators in the next game, the team lost the next two. That included a rock-bottom defeat to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks where captan Jacob Trouba was so frustrated he tossed his helmet at the boards and yelled towards his bench to “Wake the F— Up!”.
Since then, the Rangers have won three in a row starting with their first come from behind win in the third period against the St. Louis Blues. Following the victory, they went on the road to take out the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche and now hold the last wild card spot in the East.
However, things only get tougher as they must face the Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs tonight and Thursday. Both are ranked two and three overall in the NHL respectively. If they can get by them, New York will take on two non-playoff teams in the Philadelphia Flyers and Blackhawks in a back-to-back road set to close this week out.
Rangers owe Devils a loss
The New York Rangers gave the Devils their due after their first match. They recognized their own deficiencies but credited the opposition for the way they played. Heading into tonight’s contest, Gerard Gallant is continuing to acknowledge what New Jersey has done.
“They were a young team that got better every year,” Gallant said on Sunday. “It’s not surprising to me where they’re at. I knew they were going to take a step this year. They’re playing really good as a team and they’re in the top three because they deserve to be there. They haven’t been lucky.”
That being said, the focus now shifts to evening up the regular season series at one game apiece.
“It’s a division game we want to win,” Gallant added. “They beat us last time in our building so we want to get on a little roll here. We’ve won three in a row and we want to keep it moving forward.”
Igor Shesterkin is expected to be back in net and will have revenge on his mind. He was in net against the Devils last time and was extremely hard on himself.
“The goalie played a s–t game again,” Shesterkin said via the NY Post. “I’m ashamed.”
This season, the 26 year-old reigning Vezina winner is 13-4-4 with a GAA of 2.50 and SV% of .917 to date. For his career against New Jersey, he’s 6-4-0 with a 2.74 GAA and a .914 SV%.
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (14-10-5) vs. New Jersey Devils (21-5-1)
Date/Time: December 12, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
TV: MSG, NHLN
Radio: ESPN 98.7
Devils one win from record
Not that the Devils needed any additional motivation being just two points behind the league-leading Bruins. However, a win tonight will tie an NHL record for 12 straight road wins held by the Detroit Red Wings (2006) and Minnesota Wild (2015).
Vitek Vanecek is expected to be the starter in goal with a record of 12-2-1 (2.30 GAA, .916 SV%). Jack Hughes leads the team in scoring with 33 points in 27 games.
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