NEWARK — Goaltender Cory Schneider was sharp and the Rangers’ special teams were decidedly dull as the resilient Devils edged the Blueshirts 3-2 on Tuesday at Prudential Center.
In the first game for the clubs following the six-day All-Star hiatus, the Devils moved to within two points of the Rangers, who were 0-for-4 on the power play and allowed two power-play goals in two tries. In falling for the second time to the Devils this season, the Blueshirts let a 2-1, third-period lead slip away at Prudential Center.
Latest Rangers stories
David Schlemko beat Henrik Lundqvist with a shot over his left shoulder at 10:14 of the third period for the Devils’ second power-play goal, snapping a 2-2 tie, and Schneider (31 saves) survived pressure from the desperate Blueshirts in the final minutes.
The surprising Devils are 26-20-5 (57 points); the Rangers are 27-18-5 (59). The teams face each other two more times in the next three weeks: on Feb. 8 and Feb. 23.
“Our penalty-killing wasn’t able to get the job done, and our power play, other than the last one, wasn’t very good,” said coach Alain Vigneault, who did like his team’s 5-on-5 play. “We’re just not executing right now . . . There’s no doubt their goaltender had a real strong game.”
With 3:02 left, the Rangers, already without Rick Nash (leg bruise), lost Kevin Klein when the defenseman was checked into the boards by Reid Boucher. He left in pain, holding his right wrist. Vigneault had no update on Klein’s status after the game.
In the third period, J.T. Miller, with his third career two-goal game, and sixth goal in the last five games, put the Rangers up 2-1 on a one-timer at 2:06. Before the break, the Rangers had allowed numerous goals after taking a lead, and that troubling trend continued. Just 1:07 later, rookie Joseph Blandisi raced down the left side, past Dan Girardi, and snapped a shortsider under Lundqvist’s right arm to tie it at 2.
“We’ve got to get ourselves hungry again,” Derek Stepan said. “We have to be able to compete, even after a goal, those are important shifts.”
In the second period, as a carryover power play from Stepan’s hook with six seconds left in the first wound down, no defender was near Lee Stempniak, posted face-to-face with Lundqvist. He shoved in Eric Gelinas’ rebound to tie the score at 1 at 1:34, and a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference was denied.
Maybe it was the layoff and one practice, but the Blueshirts weren’t crisp early. In the first 10 minutes, the Rangers mishandled the puck in their zone on every shift. A power play at 3:36 went mostly in reverse and produced no shots on goal. Adam Henrique’s shorthanded try from alone in front went high.
Miller finally got a puck past Schneider, who had robbed him with his glove minutes earlier. But the winger didn’t miss his second opportunity. After Klein blocked a shot, Jesper Fast banked a pass off the right wall that triggered a two-on-one with Brassard and Miller, who lifted the puck past Schneider. It might have been 2-0 or 3-0 had Schneider not stopped Kreider and Derick Brassard earlier and flashed his glove to deny Ryan McDonagh with 2:09 left.
“Sometimes you’ve got to bear down and find a way; they did that, and we didn’t,” Miller said. “Frustrating is a good word for it. Special teams could’ve definitely been better for us.”