If John Maclean is still coaching the New Jersey Devils at Christmas, he can consider that to be his big gift for the holiday season. One night after he alienated the team’s superstar, Ilya Kovalchuk, by scratching him for no apparent reason, the team came out tonight against the New York Rangers looking flat as ever for the majority of the game.
However, if the Devils can somehow find a way to play the entire game like they did the last ten minutes tonight, then Maclean’s job will be safe. The Rangers controlled play in the first, dominated in the second, played even for the first half of the third, and then the Devils finally woke up late, and the Rangers were barely able to hang on.
After a scoreless first period in which the Rangers had plenty of chances with no goals to show for it, Michal Rozsival would get the Blueshirts on the board with a slapshot from the point that sailed over Brodeur’s shoulder. The goal was originally credited to Ruslan Fedotenko, after it look like the puck deflected off of him, but later replay showed that it hit a Devils defenseman. Fedotenko would still get an assist, and Avery would get the other one, bringing his season total to five.
With eight minutes remaining in the second, Ryan Callahan would net his first of the season, on the powerplay, when he redirected a Brandon Dubinsky wrist shot. Michal Rozsival would pick up an assist on the play, giving him two goals and four assists on the young season.
As the third period wound down, the Devils would finally wake up. Their play accelerated before they finally broke through on Henrik Lundqvist. Ilya Kovalchuk would redeem himself with a tap in goal on a pass from Dainus Zubrus. The score would get to 2-1 before Brandon Dubinsky would ice the game with an empty-net goal with just one second on the clock.
The Rangers played a decent game except for certain stretches in the third. With the scoring chances they had, they should have scored more than three, but they will settle for the win. Henrik Lundqvist was great and made key saves with time winding down to preserve the lead for the Rangers.
Rozsival also continues his solid play on offense, though his defense has been shaky of late. Michael Del Zotto also had a great game tonight, blocking a pass on an early Devils 2-on-1 break.
This is now the third win in a row for the Rangers, and their first on home ice this season. Their next game will be Wednesday night at home against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Also, check out this really awesome video of Del Zotto breaking a camera when his shot deflected and went into the netting: