NEW YORK (AP) Yegor Sharangovich and Nicholas Merkley scored in the third period, and the New Jersey Devils sent the New York Rangers to their fourth straight loss with a 5-2 win Tuesday night.
Pavel Zacha, Will Butcher and Mikhail Maltsev also scored for New Jersey, which returned to action for the first time this month after a prolonged hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Mackenzie Blackwood made 37 saves and Janne Kuokkanen added three assists in the victory.
“I think the most important thing for us tonight was going out and trying to play a solid game and get our legs back,” Blackwood said. ” Getting the victory was also huge. I think those were the two things we focused on tonight and we achieved both. ”
Colin Blackwell and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin recorded 32 saves in his third consecutive loss.
“It is a team that is coming off a two-week break. I realize they were probably very excited to get back to playing hockey, but that’s an unacceptable start, ” backup captain Chris Kreider said. “For most of the game they beat us in hitting, skating, they beat us at work and won more battles. I mean, putting possibilities aside, we walked away from the things we were doing right. They all loved him more. I mean, it’s unacceptable. ”
Sharangovich scored the lead goal at 10:43 of the third period when he redirected PK Subban’s shot from the spot past Shesterkin. Jesper Bratt helped with the play.
Merkley extended the Devils’ lead in the third period to two goals at 2:09 p.m. with the first of the season. The 23-year-old winger forced a fumble into the offensive zone and scored with a shot from the slot.
“We always want to be aggressive, chase after his D,” Merkely said. “I think that’s what our line did tonight, all night. Good things happen when you pressure D-men. ”
Butcher gave the Devils a brief 2-1 lead when his shot from the wall deflected from Rangers defender Jacob Trouba at 5:14 p.m. of the second period.
The Rangers responded in the last minute of the second when Buchnevich recorded his fourth goal of the season. Backup captain Chris Kreider forced a rotation into the neutral zone and placed Buchnevich, who tied the game at 2-all. Trouba helped with the play.
“We have to understand the difference between winning and losing and what to do to achieve it,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “You’d think we’d build some momentum by scoring that goal late in the second. It just didn’t happen. Not much happened tonight for us. ”
Zacha opened the scoring at 7:37 of the second with a power goal. The 23-year-old winger landed a wrist shot from the right circle on Shesterkin’s glove. Damon Severson and Kuokkanen helped.
The Rangers’ streak of 22 consecutive successful penalties in the last seven games ended with Zacha’s goal.
Blackwell leveled the score at 1-1 with a well-placed wrist shot that hit the post before finding the back of the net. Brett Howden intercepted a pass in the offensive zone and slid the puck to Blackwell at 11:32 in the second frame.
Maltsev added an empty goal in the last minute.
“It’s a group that really wants to win,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ” They faced a certain disappointment in the past. It is a group that really likes to play for others. You can see a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. They believe in how we are playing. ”
Rangers forward Artemi Panarin missed his second straight game due to a lower body injury suffered against the Bruins last week. Rookie defender K’Andre Miller did not play for New York due to an upper body injury sustained during practice.
The last game for the Devils before Tuesday was January 31 against the Buffalo Sabers. New Jersey had 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 roster during its hiatus. The NHL announced several schedule changes as part of the reorganization due to multiple postponements.
Eleven of the Rangers’ previous 12 games have been decided by two or fewer goals, and eight of those games have been decided by one goal.
CLOSE TO A MILESTONE
Travis Zajac, currently on the NHL COVID-19 roster, is two games away from becoming the fourth player to skate in 1,000 games with the Devils, joining goalie Martin Brodeur, Ken Daneyko and Patrik Elias.
UNTIL NEXT TIME:
Rangers: Visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Devils: Visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.