RECAP: Devils return to ice with strong win over Rangers

By Field Level Media
Feb 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Jesper Bratt #63 of the New Jersey Devils takes a shot as Kevin Rooney #17 and Julien Gauthier #12 of the New York Rangers defend during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Yegor Sharangovich scored the tiebreaking goal with 9:17 remaining and the New Jersey Devils returned from a two-week layoff due to COVID-19 and beat the host New York Rangers 5-2 on Tuesday night.

The Devils were strong in their first game since a 5-3 win at Buffalo on Jan. 31. They saw seven games postponed, at one point had 19 players in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, and on Tuesday that number was reduced to three (Nico Hischier, Dmitry Kulikov and Travis Zajac).

Sharangovich scored his second career goal when he parked himself in front of New York goaltender Igor Shersterkin. With Sharangovich’s back to the net, he deflected defenseman P.K. Subban’s shot from the left point over Shesterkin’s stick and inside the right post.

Nicholas Merkley scored less than four minutes after the Devils regained the lead when he one-timed a pass from Janne Kuokkanen into the net.

Pavel Zacha scored on the power play and Will Butcher tallied in the second period for the Devils, who beat the Rangers for the second time this season. Kuokkanen collected a career-best three assists and Mikhail Maltsev added his first career goal by scoring into an empty net in the final minute.

Goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list Jan. 21, made 37 saves.

Pavel Buchnevich and Colin Blackwell scored for New York while Shesterkin stopped 32 shots.

The Rangers lost their fourth straight game (0-3-1) and were without leading scorer Artemi Panarin (lower-body injury) along with rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller (upper-body injury). New York also was down to five defensemen for the third period when Jacob Trouba exited with an upper-body injury.

After a scoreless opening period that featured a combined 25 shots on goal, the second ended in a 2-2 tie.

Zacha opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the right circle that sailed over Shesterkin 7:37 into the period. Nearly four minutes later, Blackwell scored when his shot from the right circle trickled past Blackwood’s glove and off the crossbar.

New Jersey took a 2-1 lead with 2:46 remaining when Butcher’s shot from near the right boards was deflected into the net by Trouba. The Rangers evened the game with 32.1 seconds left on Buchnevich’s fluttering wrist shot from the right circle that deflected off Blackwood’s right glove.

–Field Level Media