Boyle delivers twice, Devils KO Rangers in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. — Though the calendar confirmed it was not even Christmas yet, everything about Thursday night’s 4-3 victory by the New Jersey Devils over the New York Rangers at the Prudential Center screamed playoffs except, perhaps, for the fact that the wildly entertaining game was decided by a shootout.
A raucous crowd featuring vocal fans from both sides of the Hudson River witnessed the upstart Devils (20-9-5) playing at a fever pitch, rallying from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to win their third straight game. The Rangers (19-12-4) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
“It was a blast, unlike anything I’ve played in,” explained New Jersey’s Blake Coleman, who contributed a second-period short-handed goal to the Devils’ victory. “You have half the crowd in blue, half in red, chanting back and forth, and you can feel their excitement. It just feels that much better to win a game like this.”
Former Ranger Brian Boyle played the role of hero against his former team. He tied the score 3-3 with a power-play goal at 11:54 of the third period, giving him seven points in his last three games.
Boyle then scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of the shootout, beating Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist between the pads.
“(Boyle) is relishing his role, relishing this opportunity, and he’s a player, integral to our success right now,” said Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who sealed the victory by stopping New York’s Kevin Shattenkirk on the final shootout attempt. “Fortunately, he gave me the opportunity to step up there at the end to do my part.”
Both goalies played major roles in this one.
Lundqvist made a season-high 45 saves, including 22 in the second period when the Rangers were outshot 23-8. Twice in that period, he robbed New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri from point-blank range, and he also made superb saves against Marcus Johansson and Drew Stafford.
“We still found a way to get a point in a game where we didn’t do a lot,” Lundqvist said. “You have to give Jersey credit, they played really well. The biggest thing, I feel, is that they wanted it more.”
At the other end of the rink, Schneider finished with 25 saves, including game-saving one-on-one stops on New York’s Michael Grabner in the final minute of regulation, and Mika Zibanejad and Grabner early in overtime.
“It’s critical (getting the second point), even just pushing them down by a point, you never know when that’s going to come in handy,” Schneider said after the Devils moved three points ahead of the Rangers in the tight Metropolitan Division.
Though the Rangers led 2-1 after the first period, they were fortunate to start the third period in a tie after the Devils dominated the middle 20 minutes.
John Moore wired his fourth goal over Lundqvist’s glove to open the scoring at 7:22 of the first, but the Rangers responded with two goals of their own over the next four minutes.
First, Jimmy Vesey tapped a loose puck past Schneider during a goal-mouth scramble at 9:55. Then Nick Holden buried the rebound of a Chris Kreider shot at 11:50 to make it 2-1 New York.
After being turned aside time and again by Lundqvist in the second period, the Devils pulled even at 16:24 when Steven Santini stripped the puck away from Shattenkirk during a Rangers power play, leading to Coleman’s short-handed goal, New Jersey’s sixth of the season.
“We just kept coming in waves, and fortunately we got that shorty,” said Coleman, who has five goals this season.
The Devils had an apparent goal by Nico Hischier waved off shortly before Coleman scored. It was negated by Kyle Palmieri’s high sticking penalty. Palmieri was in the penalty box when Coleman tied the score.
“After the call and the disallowed goal, it was huge (to score) because you never know which way it will go,” Palmieri said.
The Rangers restored their one-goal advantage just 1:48 into the third period on Kevin Hayes’ ninth goal of the season, but the Devils had an answer at 11:54 when Boyle scored on the power play, tying the score 3-3.
It was only the second power-play goal allowed by the Rangers in their last eight games, but it proved costly on a night they banked on Lundqvist stealing them two points.
In the end, the Rangers surrendered a season-high 48 shots — the most by the Devils this season, as well. It was also the fifth time in the last nine games New York allowed 40 or more shots, and the 11th time this season.
“Thinking back on the first two periods, we did everything we could to lose that game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “There was one player who wouldn’t let us lose it and that was (Lundqvist). But at the end of the day, the team that executed the best won the game.”
NOTES: Devils D John Moore played in his 400th NHL game and RW Brian Gibbons appeared in game No. 100. ... The Devils activated LW Marcus Johansson off injured reserve and he returned to the lineup after a four-game absence due to an ankle injury. ... New Jersey scratched RW Jimmy Hayes, D Ben Lovejoy and D Dalton Prout. The Rangers scratched C Boo Nieves and D Steven Kampfer.