The second game between the Devils and Rangers did not disappoint. This game was physical, exciting, and a downright well game played by both teams with players looking to make the team. Trailing 3-1 going into the third period, the Rangers scored three goals on the powerplay to eventually tie the game at four a piece, forcing overtime. In the overtime period, the Rangers added another powerplay goal, courtesy of Michael Del Zotto off a brilliant feed from Ryan Callahan, to win their second straight game against the Devils, both in overtime.
The Devils opened the scoring in the first off a nifty play by Zach Parise, who batted down a clearing attempt by Michael Del Zotto, and then fed Ilya Kovalchuk who beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist high glove side. However, that lead was short lived when Ryan Callahan answered right back under a minute later. Ruslan Fedotenko, who is with the Rangers on a tryout, made a nice move along the boards to get free, and fed a perfect centering pass to Callahan who buried the puck into the empty net. But just five minutes later, the Devils answered again, with Andy Greene managing to skate through most of the Rangers on the ice, around the net, and back to the slot where he beat Lundqvist five-hole. Greene was able to get so open do to some sloppy in-zone play by the Rangers, particularly Todd White.
The second period started off with some interesting scuffles, as David Clarkson and Sean Avery got into it, but Avery didn’t drop his gloves. As the refs broke it up, Kovalchuk dropped his gloves with Avery, and Clarkson jumped in after a few seconds. Somehow, Clarkson didn’t wind up with a penalty at all during all this, and the Devils wound up with an eventual 5-on-3 advantage (including a Valentenko interference before the play, and a Garnet Exelby roughing penalty after the play), that the Rangers killed off. The second period was a little slow offensively until the Devils put one behind Lundqvist off the stick of Matt Taormina. Prior to the goal, the Rangers just couldn’t get the puck off Zach Parise’s stick, who managed to control a few rebounds behind the Rangers net, before getting the puck to Kovalchuk, who fed Taormina for the goal. Again, Lundqvist was beat high glove side on the Devils third goal. The Devils dominated the second period, out-shooting the Rangers 13-5 in the period.
The Rangers cut the deficit to one in the beginning of the third period, when a Matt Gilroy shot from the top of the circle trickled through Johan Hedberg on the powerplay. Avery sat in front of the net on the goal, and provided enough of a distraction for Hedberg and defenseman Anton Volchenkov to allow the shot to trickle through. Unfortunately, the Devils answered right back as Andy Greene lifted the puck behind both Garnet Exelby to Brian Rolston, who beat Lundqvist on the ensuing breakaway, giving the Devils a 4-2 lead. Artem Anisimov answered right back for the Rangers on the powerplay, as he deflected a Callahan shot on net, which was stopped, and batted home the rebound out of mid-air.
The Rangers tied the game on a blast by Fedotenko from the face-off circle on another powerplay, off a nice feed from Gilroy, who looked very comfortable at the point on the powerplay. Avery was again in front of the net for this goal. In overtime, the Rangers scored another powerplay goal, which finished 4-for-5, when Callahan made a great pass to a cutting Michael Del Zotto, who hit an empty net for the winner. Goalie Johan Hedberg had lost his stick on the play, and was using Anton Volchenkov’s stick on the play. Volchenkov was unable to replace his stick before the game winner.
Looking deeper into the players during the game, Michael Del Zotto had many struggles in the defensive zone, and turned the puck over on more than a few occasions. One such turnover led to the Devils first goal, but in all fairness Parise made a great play to create the turnover. However, he did have four points and the game winner. Pavel Valentenko made his Rangers debut, and brought what was expected of him; a physical presence who plays solid defense. He showed some early jitters, but seemed to settle in after a few minutes. In fact, the Valentenko-Alexei Semenov pairing was one of the Rangers best during a very sloppy third period. Also looking strong on defense was Matt Gilroy, who is also on the hot seat and will need a strong preseason to ensure a roster spot.
Sean Avery looked out of place in the first period, as he got nailed by both David Clarkson, which eventually led to a three-on-one, and Anton Volcheknov. Although the Volchenkov hit looked to be an accident. He redeemed himself in the second period though, after instigating both Clarkson and Kovalchuk, and drawing a penalty on Kovalchuk (even though Avery was assessed a double minor). Avery also drew a penalty on Henrik Tallinder in the second. Avery was also an integral part in the second and fourth Rangers goals, when he planted himself in front of the net and provided a distraction for Hedberg.
Ryan Callahan was his usual Ryan Callahan self. He did a great job killing penalties, creating offense, playing solid defense, and drawing penalties. He was easily the Rangers best player this game. It is what we have come to expect from Callahan, especially when the Rangers lineup was missing it’s two projected top scorers in Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov. Ruslan Fedotenko also looked pretty good in his Rangers debut, setting up the Callahan goal and providing some good puck support in the offensive zone. Dane Byers had a good game, and showed that he is working his butt off to make sure he gets a spot on the team this year. He even went as far as jumping in for Avery in a fight with Clarkson in the middle of the third period.
Todd White, who was on the ice for the first three Devils goals, did not have a good game. He looked sloppy in all three zones, and just could not find his game. maybe his shoulder is bothering him more than he is leading on, having begged to get into the lineup tonight. It wasn’t from a lack of effort, but it just didn’t look like he had it tonight.
Rangers goals were scored by Ryan Callahan, Matt Gilroy, Artem Anisimov, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto also added three assists, with Callahan and Fedotenko also adding two assists a piece, and Gilroy adding one assist. Other Rangers to hit the score sheet with an assist a piece were Todd White and Tim Kennedy. The Rangers will fly to Detroit for their next preseason game against Detroit tomorrow at 5pm.