Mon, 08 Mar 2021

Rangers, Devils looking to build off first wins

Field Level Media
19 Jan 2021, 08:19 GMT+10

The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils each wound up with satisfying outcomes in their second games of the season after opening the season with frustrating losses.

One team will end Tuesday night on its first winning streak of the season when the Rangers host the Devils for the first of eightscheduled meetings between the teams this season.

The Rangers opened this season with a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday. They allowed two power-play goals in the defeat and trailed by three goals after the opening 20 minutes, prompting coach David Quinn to note his team was not good in many areas, if any at all.

One bad game did not lead to full-scale lineup changes but on Saturday, Alexandar Georgiev started in goal after Igor Shesterkin struggled in the first game. Another change made by Quinn was scratching defenseman Anthony DeAngelo after he was whistled for a holding penalty and received an unsportsmanlike penalty on the same play in the third period of the opener.

Perhaps the most impactful change was elevating first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere to the top line on the right side of Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome at times. While Lafreniere did not produce a point, he was on the ice for two of the Rangers' four even-strength goals in a 5-0 rout of the Islanders on Saturday.

The outcome resembled some of the Rangers' wins from last season. Panarin had two goals, Pavel Buchnevich scored twice and added an assist, while Georgiev made 23 saves.

"The right words were spoken in the locker room and it was a good lesson for all of us," Panarin said. "We changed some things in our game, and we were happy with the outcome."

Although the Devils also lost their opener, they got three out of four points from the Boston Bruins. They rallied to tie Thursday's game on a goal by Ty Smith and then lost in the third round of the shootout.

On Saturday afternoon, New Jersey posted a 2-1 victory when rookie Yegor Sharangovich scored on a breakaway with less than two seconds left in overtime to give coach Lindy Ruff his win with the Devils.

Sharangovich's first career goal capped a 27-save performance by Mackenzie Blackwood.

"You could win a lot of different ways, but I really felt it was a total 60-minute game," said Ruff, who was an assistant for the Rangers in the previous three seasons. "Everyone really played well for us. We got great play out of our forwards, our defense had a really good night, and Blackwood gave us a couple of great saves when we needed them. To win like that, it was great."

Blackwood has stopped 62 of 65 shots so far for a .954 save percentage, and he's not the only Devil off to a good start.

Miles Wood has scored twice, and perhaps even more significant is the quick start by Jack Hughes in his second season. Hughes has been used on New Jersey's top line so far with Sharangovich and Kyle Palmieri and has three assists so far after finishing with seven goals and 21 points in his rookie season.

The team split their four meetings last season and combined for 30 goals. The last meeting was New Jersey's 6-4 victory on March 7 when Palmieri scored twice in a game that marked the Rangers' final home game of the season.

--Field Level Media

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