Grand Slam In Second Powers Rangers Past Devils Outdoors, 7-3
With the snow falling, the temperature hovering around 20 degrees, and playing in one of sports' most iconic venues Sunday afternoon, the Rangers spotted the New Jersey Devils a 3-1 lead before erupting for six unanswered goals of their own in a memorable 7-3 Stadium Series victory outdoors in front of 50,105 fans at Yankee Stadium.
Mats Zuccarello scored twice, while Dominic Moore, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman, Derek Stepan, and Derick Brassard also had two-point games for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist settled in after allowing three first-period goals to finish with 19 saves, while his Devils counterpart, Martin Brodeur, was kayoed from the game after two periods of play, surrendering six goals on 21 shots.
While Brodeur did struggle between the pipes for New Jersey, it was the Rangers exploiting their speed advantage which really was the Devils undoing. The Rangers turned New Jersey over repeatedly in the second period, scoring four times--a grand slam of sorts--to establish an NHL outdoors game single-period record--with three of those scores coming off odd-man rushes.
The Rangers comeback actually began late in the first period. Trailing 3-1 after a pair of Patrick Elias goals and one by Travis Zajac, Staal snuck a left wing shot through Brodeur at 16:59, just 52 seconds after Zajac had give the Devils their 3-1 advantage. Brodeur's misplay of Staal's seemingly harmless shot helped New York get back on its collective feet, and also brought the Rangers Faithful back into the game on a frigid January day in the Bronx.
The second period was all Rangers as they scored four times on 11 shots against Brodeur, who allowed more than five goals to the Rangers for the first time in 100 career appearances against his most hated rival. Zuccarello's first of the game tied the score, 3-3, just 2:48 into the second period. John Moore tore up left wing, using his speed to leave Devil forwards in his wake, before centering a pass to Zuccarello who redirected the puck into the cage, eliciting loud "Zuuuccc" chats from the Ranger fans in attendance.
Zuccarello gave the Rangers and their fans more to cheer about when he scored his 15th goal of the season at 12:44, giving New York its first lead of the game. This time it was Brassard with the sweet pass to the flying Norwegian off another odd-man rush which burned the Devils, Brassard's second assist of the period.
Less than two minutes later Carl Hagelin wheeled out of the corner with the puck, curled at the right-wing circle, and wristed a shot towards the Devils net. The puck deflected off at least one--and possibly two-- New Jersey d-men in front and caromed past a stunned Brodeur at 13:53, giving the Rangers a 5-3 lead.
Rick Nash put an exclamation point on the Rangers dominant second period when he scored off a 3-on-1 odd-man rush with just 28.5 seconds remaining in the period. The goal was Nash's team-leading 18th on the season, and his 11th in the last 11 games. Nash now has a five-game goal scoring streak, after burying Stepan's pass past the beleaugured Brodeur.
The scoring play began back by the Rangers blueline when Stralman leveled the Devils puck carrier to create yet another turnover. Staal then collected the puck, outletted to Stepan, and the Rangers finished for the 6-3 lead. Both Stralman and Staal finished a plus-four in the plus/minus category on Sunday.
Stepan added one more to the tally at 10:06 of the third period when he beat New Jersey's Cory Schneider--who had replaced Brodeur at the start of the final period--under the crossbar on a penalty shot after being hooked down on a breakaway. Stepan skated in slowly before breaking in on Schneider and whipping the forehand shot into the cage for his tenth goal of the season.
While Stepan's goal was the final one for the Rangers, Dominic Moore's goal at 9:07 of the opening period was their first. Moore buried a rebound of a Stralman shot to tie the game at the time, 1-1, his fourth goal of the season.
The win was the Rangers first this season against the Devils (1-2-1), ad helped them snap a mini two-game skid overall. They will play outdoors again at Yankee Stadium in their next game, Wednesday night, against the Islanders.