The New Jersey Devils (30-40-10) and the New York Rangers (31-35-13) have both been eliminated from the 2018-2019 Stanley Cup Playoff Race. However, last night’s game (on April 1st) felt like an old-time battle between the two rivals. Neither team was thinking about going home empty handed and both sides fought like it was going to decide who ruled the East. The Prudential Center, known to Devils fans as The Rock, was packed with fans from both sides of the Hudson. The stadium was vibrating with energy. Game attendance was listed at 14,776 fans, according to Stadium Statistics.
Some Stats from last night’s game:
- Shots on Goal: Devils 41 Rangers 32
- Hits: Devils 24 Rangers 21
- Power Plays: 1/4 Devils 1/2 Rangers
- PIM: Devils 21 Rangers 25
- Total Penalties: 14 (11 in the 2nd Period)
Using his speed, Devils Forward Miles Wood scored the first goal of the game after only three minutes of play. The Devils soon went up by two in the first when Zajac deflected the puck past Lundqvist during a Power Play. But we know from two prior meetings that the early lead for the Devils means nothing. As the period was winding down, Howden of the Rangers scored his 6th goal of the year. Less than 20 seconds later, it seemed as if the Rangers Forward Chris Krieder had a deflection of his own to tie the game. This caused a rain of cheers from the seats as Coach Hynes of the Devils called a challenge on the goal. The goal was reversed soon after, causing the Rangers bench to surge with anger. The first period ended 2-1.
Less than four minutes into the 2nd period Chytil of the Rangers knotted the score at 2-2. Matchups between these two teams can always be described as physical, but the animosity seemed to boil over in the 2nd period when three separate fights broke out. All three of which occurred within an eight minute span.
Fight #1: NYR DeAngelo vs. NJD Bastian
Some commotion behind the Devils’ net caused a large scrum to break out. From the pile, Anthony DeAngelo and Nathan Bastian come out swinging. A few punches from each connected before the officials came in to separate the skaters and lead them to the penalty box.
Fight #2: NYR Lemieux vs. NJD Wood
Brendan Lemieux, son of legendary Devils player Claude Lemieux, faced off against Miles Wood, who is no stranger to the challenge. Wood slipped at the beginning of the fight and struggled (to no avail) to regain his balance. Meanwhile, Lemieux, holding firm, showered Wood with uppercuts before dropping him to the ice.
Fight #3: NYR Andersson vs. NJD Coleman
The fight between Lias Andersson and Blake Coleman started as it ended, with officials trying to hold the two back as the crowd stood on their feet and jeered. The two players, who haven’t racked up many fights in their careers, held on early and tried to connect. The eventual gridlock led to the breakup, but the message was clear.
The second period ended with the fewest shots/attempts and only one goal. As the 3rd period began, skill won out as players traded from firing shots on each other to firing shots on goal. Devil’ rookie, Connor Carrick, scored the third goal of the game after an almost 20-minute point drought. Then, with little over a minute left in the game, Anderson scored an empty netter. However, the Rangers did not go down easy. Down two with only seconds left, the Rangers rushed the Devils zone and continued to fire shots as time expired.
Final Thoughts on the Rivalry this Season
After the game, when Devils veteran Travis Zajac was being interviewed by MSG+ reporter, Erika Wachter, he commented that the younger players “have to learn to hate these guys,” referring to the Rangers of course; and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. Before the game, Devils play by play commentator Steve Cangialosi stated that in their 37 years as division rivals, this is the first season that both teams will miss the playoffs. The Rangers won this season series against the Devils 3-1. They will meet again in the 2019 Preseason, and in October, the battle will begin again for the Metropolitan Division Rivals.
Photo Source: SI.com Scott Levy/ Getty Images
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