For the second straight so-called “meaningless” game, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils squared off. For the second straight game, there was excitement and intensity from start to finish. For the second straight game, there was a nasty edge shown by both teams that made the feel of the game seem anything but meaningless. For the second straight game, the Rangers would be victorious over the Devils in overtime.
The game started out very lethargically from a Rangers standpoint. After trailing early on, they would quickly tie it before going silent. For the first two periods, there were no stand-out players except Ryan Callahan, who scored the team’s first goal and made some very nice blocks on the penalty kill. The team lacked energy at times, and the defense and goaltending was shaky.
But the team woke up in the third period, scoring three goals and adding another in overtime to defeat the Devils after trailing 3-1 and 4-2.
Even though the game technically is meaningless, the Rangers can take a lot away from tonight. Aside from Lundqvist, none of the Rangers major stars were playing, and they relied on showcasing the youth of the organization. Meanwhile, the Devils went without Brodeur, but used their offensive weapons, fielding the same lethal top line of Parise, Zajac, and Kovalchuk, and adding Elias and Arnott. Hedburg would get the start in net for them, and both goaltenders played the entire game.
The Devils got on the board just over two minutes in, on a goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. Callahan would tie it less than a minute later, with assists from Fedotenko and White. The Devils then grabbed the lead again, shortly after, with a goal from defenseman Andy Greene. Matt Taormina would add to the Devils lead in the second, while the Rangers went silent in the middle frame.
Where the offense lacked in the second, though, was made up for with fisticuffs. After Clarkson and Avery met along the boards, Clarkson dropped his gloves wanting to fight, while Avery did not. This is the second time this has happened going back to last season, and Avery is clearly in his head. As Avery headed to the penalty box, he met with another one of his favorite targets in Kovalchuk, and the two attempted to fight before being separated. Clarkson jumped in, being the third man, but was not penalized a minute for the whole affair. Avery would get four minutes for roughing and a ten minute misconduct, while Kovalchuk received two minutes.
The third period began with a powerplay goal by Matt Gilroy, assisted by Del Zotto and Fedotenko. This would be the first of four powerplay goals on the night for the Rangers. The Devils would respond again, getting back the two goal lead when Rolston shot one short-side on Lundqvist, but the Rangers did not quit.
Anisimov would score at the ten minute mark from Callahan and Del Zotto, and Fedotenko scored two minutes later, from Gilroy and Del Zotto. This would happen after Dane Byers fought with David Clarkson and was effectively beaten, and before Kris Newbury of the Rangers would square off and defeat Bryce Salvador.
Then game then headed to overtime with the Rangers once again on the powerplay. Del Zotto would cap off the win, and a great night for himself, with a blast from the point past Hedburg. Tim Kennedy would get on the board for the first time this fall, and Callahan added his second assist.
The Rangers had multi-point games from Del Zotto (1-3), Fedotenko (1-2) and Callahan (1-2). Meanwhile, the Devils first line was still surging from the night before, and are proving to be more than adequate.
Once again, it was hard to believe this was a preseason game. These two teams clearly hate each other and I really hope this passion can carry over into the regular season. In other observations, Lundqvist looked rusty, Exelby was awful on defense, and I don’t think there is a player in the Atlantic Division who will fight Derek Boogaard.
The Rangers will head up to Detroit tomorrow night to take on the Red Wings at 5pm.