Saturday’s Win Creates a New Energy
NEW YORK, NY – Hope was not lost, but it was certainly fading as the New Jersey Devils headed to take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday (April 22). After tripping, stumbling, and falling to the Rangers in the first two games of the series, the Devils faced New York’s home crowd with a chip on their shoulder. Knowing what was at stake, Devil’s head coach Lindy Ruff made changes to the lineup – replacing defender Brendan Smith with Jonas Siegenthaler and forward Miles Wood with Curtis Lazar – in an effort to reinflate the twice-defeated Devil’s team. Ruff’s changes didn’t stop there, as rookie goaltender Akira Schmid would get the nod for his first NHL playoff game.
Was it the personnel changes that made the difference? Did the energy from MSG reignite the flame of the regular season Devils? Or was it the calm, cool, and collected goaltending from Akira Schmid? Any and all of these are possible. Regardless, the Devils walked out of the rink that night with a 2-1 OT win and a chance.
They Meet Again Monday
The New Jersey Devils are back, baby!
The energy surrounding the team and fans going into Monday night’s (April 24) game was different from the previous game. No longer were the masses running on hope; instead, there was trust in the team. They had won once, and they can do it again. Monday night’s lineup mirrored Saturday’s, with Akira Schmid getting the nod for only his second NHL playoff game.
Game 4 began with an electric energy from the New Jersey Devils that hadn’t been present through the first nine periods of the series. Scoring was opened by Hughes 2:50 into the period off of a breakaway following Siegenthaler clearing the puck after Schmid’s save on Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere. Siegenthaler would get the primary assist.
It’s clear the booing from the excited Rangers fans MSG that occurred every time Jack Hughes touched the puck didn’t upset him but fueled him.
No other goals would be scored during the first period despite both goaltenders seeing a handful of failed opportunities – SOG 8-10, NY. Two penalties would be assessed to the Devils, but both would be successfully killed off. The Devils’ PK units made an apparent effort to extinguish any scoring opportunity that Chris Kreider had on the man advantage after he successfully scored four PPG in the first two meetings. The Devils had their chance at a PPG when Vladimir Tarasenko would go off for tripping Erik Haula but could not capitalize.
The night’s second period would be quiet, at least on paper. Rangers were unable to find themselves a spot on the scoreboard, and the Devils couldn’t further their lead. Only two penalties were accessed, one per club, but neither led to a scoring opportunity. SOG 8-6, NJ.
Vincent Trochek puts the Rangers on the board at 1:42 into the final frame. His goal was assisted by Kreider and Patrick Kane. The ‘one’ under the Ranger’s name on the Jumbotron at MSG was enough to reignite the home team’s crowd. Now, we have a game on our hands.
It was kind of the New Jersey Devils to allow the Rangers fans a moment of excitement before Jonas Seigenthaler sat them down with a shot that rang off the post and into the net. Nico Hischier and Dougie Hamilton assisted this 2-1 lead.
It was a fight to the finish. A desperate and tired Rangers team was holding on to their momentum as they tried to put out the fire that was the New Jersey Devils. Unable to do so, Ondrej Palat would score an ENG with 26 seconds left of the third, securing the visiting team a 3-1 win. SOG 7-all.
New Jersey was able to tie the series after dominating the Rangers in their back-to-back at home. Jack Hughes scored his third goal of the series, and Jonas Siegenthaler his first. Akira Schmid secured his second playoff win during his second playoff appearance, a noteworthy one at that.
It can be (easily) argued that the Devils played their best three periods of the series on Monday night. After these losses, it will be interesting to see what Rangers team shows up to the Prudential Center on Thursday (April 27) when the two teams compete in Game 5.