Former Rangers coach Mike Keenan would always talk about “intensity around the net,” the ability to pounce on loose pucks down low to get those “garbage goals” that usually make the difference between winning and losing in the NHL.
Jimmy Vesey brought that intensity around the net to score twice including the go ahead goal late in the third period as the Rangers continued to roll with a 5-3 win over the Devils at the Rock in Newark last night.
The blistering Artemi Panarin continued his hot start as he scored two goals and set a franchise record by recording a point in 15 straight games to begin the season, while Vincent Trocheck added three assists.
With the score tied at three, Vesey capitalized on a rebound of Tyler Pitlick’s shot to back hand the puck into the net for his second goal of the game and a 4-3 Rangers lead with less than three minutes left in the third period.
Blake Wheeler scored into the open net for his second goal of the game as the Rangers won their fourth straight game and have recorded points in 11consecutive games (10-0-1). “I think we’ve been playing pretty good hockey,” Coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “I know that it’s not always 60 minutes of domination, but no game ever is.”
This was a satisfying win for the Rangers who remember all too well their bitter, seven game loss in the first round of the playoffs last season against New Jersey. “We were resilient, fought back. Obviously a really good hockey team over there so that’s a big one for us,” Trocheck said.
Igor Shersterkin made 30 saves in his return after missing 16 days and four games. Shesterkin was a little rusty early on but he made enough clutch saves to secure the win including a big stop in the third period when the Rangers trailed by one.
With New Jersey leading 3-2 in the third, Jesper Bratt had a breakaway but Shesterkin made the initial save and a save on a tap in attempt off a rebound.
“I think they scored that goal to go up,” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “There was a moment right away on somebody [Bratt] coming in, he [Shesterkin] had to make a save and then he made the quick rebound save on that.”
The Devils got a boost from the return of Jack Hughes and the former first round pick made his presence felt early and often.
The Rangers were coming off an extended break but they got on the board first thanks to Panarin’s first goal of the night on the power play.
The Rangers had great puck movement and it was capped off by the Breadman, who wristed one past Devils goaltender Vitek Vanacek for a 1-0 lead at 8:37 of the first period. The goal gave Panarin a point in 15 straight games to begin a season and a new franchise record as he broke Rod Gilbert’s mark.
Hughes answered less than a minute later as his shot trickled through Shesterkin for the tying goal. It appeared Shesterkin had made the save but the puck found its way over the goal line to tie the game at one at 9:25. Hughes, who added an assist for a multi point night, had numerous scoring chances and gave the Rangers fits.
Vesey’s first of the night also came off a rebound. Brendan Schneider fired the puck from the right faceoff circle and Vesey was in the right spot to gather the rebound and put it home for his second goal of the season and a 2-1 lead with less than six minutes left in the first period.
Ondrej Palat’s power play goal with less than a minute left tied the game at two in what was a energetic and hard hitting first period.
Jacob Trouba had one of his patented, legal hard hits when he leveled Devils left wing Tomas Nosek and knocked him out of the game in the first period.
Midway through the second, Ryan Lindgren appeared to take a shot to the head from New Jersey’s Micheal McLeod. The play was initially ruled a five minute major but after the officials huddled, it was ruled no penalty.
The Devils struck early in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. Erik Haula was the beneficiary of a loose puck that just laid there and waited for him to put it into an empty net for his sixth goal of the season.
Panarin tied the game with his second goal of the game at 11:04 of the third period. A face off in the offensive zone, led to a loose puck that Panarin quickly jumped on and fired past Vanacek, who had no chance to make the save.
Panarin is shooting more (career high 9 shots on goal) and his two goals gave him 10 on the season and tied him with Chris Kreider for the team lead. Panarin, who is playing his best hockey as a Ranger, is the team’s leading scorer and is among the NHL leaders with 26 points in 15 games.
The Rangers (12-2-1) wanted to get off to a good start on this four game road trip which continues Monday night in Dallas. Mission accomplished.
“Definitely a big game after a little bit of a break. Looking to take that momentum from the run we were on before, right into this upcoming road trip, so huge game for us,” Vesey said.