New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) embraces New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

               The Rangers are back in action where they’ll look to even the season series against the Devils and go on their first three-game winning streak of the season (1:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Devils
6th  East Ranking7th

               Thursday night, the Rangers were clinical and defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1. While the score showed a lopsided game – it was anything but. The Rangers came out flat and the first period was one of the worst they’ve played all season. The outstanding goaltending by Igor Shesterkin kept the score at just 1-0 when in reality the Devils could have had a handful. The second period was more even and the Rangers managed to enter the third period with a one-goal lead on a pair of Chris Kreider goals. In the third, the Rangers offense would explode as Kreider would complete the natural hat trick. Pavel Buchnevich would add a fourth just minutes later on a pass from Alexis Lafreniere. Brendan Smith and Lafreniere each tallied a goal in the final five minutes to ice the game.

               “He kind of comes to the rink with the same attitude every day, which is very important in a business where there’s so many highs and lows,” said Ryan Strome. “It rubs off on everybody.”

               While the score had Rangers fans buzzing, all anyone cared about was the health of Shesterkin who was stellar. Shesterkin played his best game of the season and stole the win for Rangers. But with just a few minutes left to play, Shesterkin went for a sprawling save on a shot that ultimately missed the net, but the extension of his body left the 25-year-old in a lot of pain. The Russian had to be helped off the ice and couldn’t put weight on his right leg. Just prior to the injury, Devils forward Michael McLeod was called for goalie interference where he went through the crease and made contact in the back of Shesterkin’s right leg. On Friday afternoon, fans were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief as the Rangers announced he is day-to-day with a mild groin strain. Given how serious the incident initially looked, the news is almost music to everyone’s ears.

               With Shesterkin recovering, Alex Georgiev will get the start for the Rangers. Georgiev came on for the final few minutes and stopped all three shots he faced. If Shesterkin is unable to backup – Keith Kinkaid will be called up from the taxi squad and dress for the first time this season.

               MacKenzie Blackwood will get the nod for the Devils. Blackwood gave up four goals on 15 shots and was pulled in the third period. Blackwood has now lost his past three starts and has given up ten goals on 61 shots in those three games.

               The Rangers will be getting some reinforcements as Kaapo Kakko will return to the lineup. Kakko has not played since February 18th and had been on the COVID Protocol. Kakko is expected to join Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome on the second line.

Head coach David Quinn will be looking for a big game from Mika Zibanejad. It’s not been a dream start for Zibanejad as the season inches closer to the halfway point. Zibanejad found himself benched for parts of Thursday’s game.

“Nothing’s changed from my end with him,” said Quinn. He and I have had plenty of conversations. There’s no surprises here. I was happy with the uptick in play after he sat for a little bit.”

               Colin Blackwell will be the likely candidate to come out of the lineup. “It’s not an easy decision because the guys that you would consider played pretty well,” Quinn said. Quinn believed Blackwell was one of the individuals along with Zibanejad who struggled on Thursday.

Projected Lineup




Lemieux-Howden-Di Giuseppe