NEWARK – Maybe it was a letdown after their big day on Monday, when the Rangers brought in three new players at the NHL trade deadline, but the Blueshirts’ trip to New Jersey on Tuesday ended up with goalie Igor Shesterkin getting pulled from the net for the second time in his last five starts, and the Rangers losing to the Devils, 7-4, at Prudential Center.
“There obviously was a letdown,’’ Rangers forward Ryan Strome said. “I think we had a great first [period], everyone was in a good mindset. I think it was just mental errors, like just some stupid hockey by everyone, especially guys that don't usually make those mistakes, myself included. Like all our lineup, top to bottom. I mean just mistakes that cost us. And weak hockey and soft hockey.’’
With newcomers Andrew Copp, Tyler Motte and Justin Braun in the lineup after arriving in trades Monday, the Rangers led 2-0 lead at the first intermission on goals by Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox. But they were outscored 5-0 in the second period, which led to coach Gerard Gallant pulling Shesterkin at the start of the third and replacing him with Alexandar Georgiev.
Four goals within a 6:01 span – the first by Ryan Graves, at 7:12 of the second – put the Devils up 4-2 by the 13:13 mark of the period. And after an apparent fifth goal by Jesper Bratt was overturned on video replay at 13:55, Yegor Sharangovich scored at 18:07 to give the Devils a 5-2 lead into the third.
“We sort of did the unwritten rule of starting to turn pucks over trying to make fancy plays inside their blue line,’’ Gallant said. “And it cost us two or three goals… They got it rolling and we couldn't stop it.’’
Gallant changed his lines in the third period and shortened his bench, and a goal by Strome at 3:46 of the period got the Rangers back in it briefly. But then Jack Hughes scored twice for New Jersey to make it 7-3. Chris Kreider’s power-play goal, his 42nd, accounted for the final score.
Sharangovich dropped the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin with an open ice hit in the neutral zone in the third that appeared to shake up Panarin. He did return for another shift a couple minutes later, but didn’t play after that.
Notes & quotes: Rookie D Braden Schneider and forwards Greg McKegg and Jonny Brodzinski were scratched, along with RW Julien Gauthier and D Libor Hajek. After the trade deadline, NHL teams no longer are limited to a 23-man roster, so for now the Rangers have five extra skaters… The Rangers are off Wednesday and return to practice Thursday. They host Pittsburgh Friday.