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A Step in the Right Direction For Devils with First Win of Season

EAST HANOVER, NJ – It did not come easy, and it took New Jersey more than 60 minutes to get the job done. However, when Lee Stempniak beat goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on the short side at 2:21 into overtime, off a beautiful cross-ice pass from Adam Henrique, a weight was certainly lifted off the Devil’s shoulders.

New Jersey (1-3-1) earned their first victory when they ousted the hated New York Rangers, (3-2-1) 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at MSG.

“It feels great. I am really just happy for the team. I feel like we’ve gone through a lot of changes since training camp. I really credit the players’ attitudes every day,” first-year head coach, John Hynes said.

“They have worked to get better and it is gratifying for our guys to get a win after all of their hard work.”

devils fight

Devils forward, Kyle Palmieri fights with Rangers defenseman, Kevin Klein at the end of the first period. Photo Credit:

The effort for New Jersey seemed to increase as the game progressed, but it sure was not pretty.

The Rangers got on the board first after just over three minutes of play. Derek Stepan lifted a nice backhander past goaltender, Cory Schneider, as he was streaking down the middle, past the Devil’s defense.

The Devils were outshot in the first period 9 to 6 and did not get any real, quality scoring chances on Lundqvist through the first 20 minutes of play. The only real momentum builder came from the fists of winger, Kyle Palmieri, when he dropped the gloves to fight Ranger’s defenseman, Kevin Klien.

It seemed like another slow start would doom the Devils and put them in a hole that they would not be able to crawl out from.

“I think when you’re where we are and you haven’t won yet, we’re in a building against our rivals, we gave up an early goal, things just aren’t going our way, you have to think it’d be pretty easy to say ‘ woe is me’ and kind of fall into what’s happened,” Schneider said.

The Devils made sure that was not the case.  After re-grouping during the first intermission, the offense began to find its stride as they were able to control the puck more effectively in the Ranger’s zone.

New Jersey was rewarded just 1:52 into the second frame. Adam Henrique fired a tough angle shot from the right side, and then followed up on his own rebound to trickle the puck past Lundqvist.

A key point in the game and probably a big reason why New Jersey came out on top, came midway through the third period. The Devils warded off two Ranger man-advantage opportunities in a 4:40 minute span. The penalty kill did a terrific job of clearing pucks and making sure Schneider was able to see and stop all four shots he faced.

“Cory made some big stops for us when we needed him. That’s what we expect from him, that’s the kind of team we have. Whether it was early in the game or later in the game, he was a key part in us being able to get a win,” coach Hynes stated.

The Devils had scored a power-play goal in all four of their contests before Sunday afternoon’s tilt. The Devils were 0-3 against the Rangers, and did not even register a shot on goal when they had a two-man advantage at the very end of the second and beginning of the third period.

New Jersey will look to win their second game in a row when they host the Arizona Coyotes (3-2) on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.


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