Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils Top Rangers in Shootout Thriller

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils Top Rangers in Shootout Thriller

Article excerpt

NEWARK – It doesn't seem right that, with more than half the regular season remaining, the Devils and Rangers are scheduled to play just once more.

Because Thursday night's game at Prudential Center was everything that was fun about this longstanding rivalry, even if it took most of the Rangers other than goalie Henrik Lundqvist two periods to show up.

With both teams vying to playoff position in the bunched up Metropolitan Division, the Devils topped the Rangers, 4-3, in a four-round shootout with top-six left wing Marcus Johansson returning to the Devils after a four-game absence because of an ankle bruise.

Lundqvist stopped a season-high 45 shots, including 22 in the second period for the Rangers (19-12-4), who had a three-game winning streak snapped as the Devils (20-9-5), who have won three straight, took a season-high 48 shots while Cory Schneider made 25 saves.

Brian Boyle, who had scored a power-play equalizer, scored the decisive shootout goal and then Schneider denied Kevin Shattenkirk to clinch the game.

The Devils, who have 22 division games remaining over their final 48 of the season, are now (2-3-0) in divisional play after splitting their first two games with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The teams play next on April 3 at The Rock.

The Devils won, 3-2, on Oct. 14, leaving the Rangers at 1-5-0, but were thoroughly outplayed in a 5-2 loss on Dec. 9, after which a disgusted Devils coach John Hynes described his team's play as "soft" and "loose."

Johansson, who had also missed 13 games in November because of a concussion, injured his ankle blocking a shot in that game. But with Johansson back, and top-line wings Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall returning from injury absences in Monday's 5-3 win over the visiting Ducks, Devils coach Jon Hynes wants his veterans to lead the team into the thick of its schedule.

"I'm looking for more from our veteran group," Hynes said. "I think your veteran group has to drive your team in the stretch of the season we're going into. When you get into divisional games late in the season, everything starts to tighten up and get gritty. This is when your leaders have to grab the team and drag them into the battle, drag them through the season. …

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