THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS WIN IT IN OVERTIME! The Devils (27-33-12) avoid being swept by the New York Rangers (45-24-4) and finally, finally win an overtime game against their divisional rivals in their fourth and final meeting this season. It was one hell of a game and there is so much to talk about: so many firsts, so many great moments, and the potential reviving of a rivalry.
Joseph Blandisi (!!!!!) scored the overtime winner off of a slick pass from self-declared “best buddy” John Quenneville and pounded the boards (again) to celebrate his third game-winner with the Devils. I wouldn’t be opposed to more Blandisi game-winners against the Rangers. Johnny Q had his first NHL goal to open up the scoring and get New Jersey on the board; it was also a power play goal. His goal was assisted by Blandisi and Pavel Zacha, an all-rookie goal, and it was a beautiful, beautiful sight. Taylor Hall scored the other regulation goal, his 18th of the year, assisted by Kyle Palmieri, of course. The Hall-Zajac-Palmieri line has been one of my favorite parts of this season and they continue to impress me. Hall also led the team in shots on goal with eight; defenseman Ben Lovejoy had five. Hall also almost scored the overtime winner but did not. And not that we care all too much but Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash scored goals for the Rangers. But anyway…
Tonight was a goaltending duel from the very beginning. The first period was scoreless and most of the second was too. The Rangers did outshoot the Devils 40-29 and you can tell; the fact that New Jersey even extended the game past regulation was a bit of a surprise but also long overdue. Cory Schneider was on top of his game tonight (with a few lapses and exceptions here and there) and stopped 38 of 40 shots faced (.950 save percentage); he finally gets a win, his first since February 18th. Likewise, Antti Raanta was excellent as well, stopping 26 of 29 shots against (.897 save %).
The game felt like a revival of sorts. To any longtime Devils or Rangers fan, we know of the history between the two teams (namely 1994 and 2012) but since the 2012 Eastern Conference Final and the Stadium Series, one can argue that the rivalry has lost its edge and it has. The Devils haven’t been nearly as good as they used to be so those moments have been few and far between. But tonight was the start of something new. They played with a chip on their shoulder. They had some pep in their step. They were aggressive and they fought (literally).
Miles Wood racked up 17 minutes in penalties for “instigating” a fight with Nick Holden, who had a cheap hit on Wood. Nick Lappin and Blake Coleman were involved as well, and Coleman took down Jimmy Vesey (a very fun sight to watch). All three of them held their own and had each other’s backs and it was beautiful. That was Wood’s sixth fighting major in his rookie season and we haven’t seen someone like him in a while.
I know we keep saying this but the future is bright, it really, truly is. Tonight’s game proved that the team will be exciting to watch in the future (and they are now). Every single rookie/young kid (I know, I know, I need a better name for them) had a role to play tonight. Zacha, Blandisi, and Quenneville had points tonight. Wood, Coleman, Lappin, Santini, and Severson all held their own and made play hell. Severson, in particular, had a great night. The kids are alright. The kids are more than alright. They’re this organization’s future and Wood discussed this in his post game interview tonight too. As exciting as it is to watch them, it’s exciting for them to play with one another. Blandisi and Quenneville are really good friends and have spent a ton of time in Albany (AHL) together, and now they get to spend time in New Jersey together and build that chemistry even more. We saw it on the first goal and then on the overtime winner. Blandisi stated that he wants them to be a dynamic duo and they will be.
But for now, I’m going to relish in tonight’s win, as we all should.
The Devils will be back in action Thursday night against the Maple Leafs; puck drops at 7PM.