The New York Rangers will have an early return trip to New York City to take on the Blue Jackets tomorrow in the late afternoon. When their game in New Jersey went to overtime, they were going to do everything they could to avoid going to a shootout for a third consecutive game so as not to delay their trip home.
Mika Zibanejad scored his first goal in 16 games at exactly the right time, ending the overtime period just 76 seconds after it started with a goal that gave the Rangers a 4-3 win over their crossriver rivals, the Devils, at Prudential Center.
With the win, the Rangers (40-19-2) improved to 9-1-1 in the month of February. The month best know for its holiday of love has been very seen to the Rangers, albeit very dramatic. The win over New Jersey (25-25-11) was the Rangers’ seventh in which they came from behind to win this month.
The Rangers dominated the early portions of the game, earning a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Chris Kreider tipped a Dan Girardi slap shot from the blue line for the opening score, while slick passes from Nick Holden and Jesper Fast got the puck to Oscar Lindberg, who fired it into the wide open net to double the score. The Rangers put up 17 shots on Corey Schneider in the second frame, but the Devils’ tender held strong. His efforts paid off, as Rangers enemy Adam Henrique managed to score his 16th of the season, signaling the start of a New Jersey comeback.
Know for their dazzling shows in the third period, the Rangers instead came out flat. Kyle Palmieri scored just 27 seconds into the final regulation frame, and then, while Kreider began to serve a penalty for delay of game, Palmieri did it again, a far shot getting past Rangers starter Antti Raanta to give the Devils their first lead of the night.
It would turn out to be their only lead of the night.
Ending goal drought would end up being a theme of the evening, as Adam Clendening fired a slap shot past Schneider with 4:25 remaining, knotting things up at three apiece. For Clendening, who was subbing for an ailing Kevin Klein, it was his second goal of the season, and first since January 7.
In the overtime portion, Palmieri went for the victorious hat trick, but was stopped by Raanta. Brady Skjei got the loose puck to a streaking Zibanejad, who put it through Schneider for the game ending goal. It was part of a two point night for Zibanejad, who assisted on Clendening’s equalizer.
Though two of the games have gone into extra time, the Rangers are now 3-0-0 against the Devils this season. They’ll go for their second sweep of the Devils in three seasons on March 21 in Newark.
The Rangers’ will now look to sweep a weekend back-to-back set, as they’ll travel back home to take on the Blue Jackets tomorrow late afternoon (5:00, MSG).