Kreider scores tiebreaking goal late as Rangers beat Devils 4-3 in game that began with fights


NEW YORK — Chris Kreider scored a power-play goal late in the third period and the New York Rangers rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Wednesday night in a game that started with a 10-player brawl.

Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and an assist, and Kaapo Kakko also scored for the NHL-leading Rangers. Igor Shesterkin finished with 17 saves as New York won for the sixth time in seven games and 11th in its last 14.

“It’s huge,” Kreider said of his team’s 51st win this season. “Division games are important. You obviously saw the emotion. So it’s a big two points.”

Nico Hischier, Ondrej Palat and Brendan Smith scored in the second period for the Devils, and Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 37 shots. New Jersey has lost three straight and remained six points behind Washington for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

“The guys stood up for each other,” said Devils leading scorer Jesper Bratt who had two assists. ”It’s tough. We played a great game as a whole considering the situation we were in.”

Trailing 3-2 after 40 minutes, the Rangers tied it on Kakko’s 13th goal of the season at 5:32 of the third period. Kreider then put the Rangers back ahead as he deflected Adam Fox’s shot from the point past Kahkonen with 4:57 remaining for his 36th.

Panarin also assisted on Kreider’s goal, giving him a team-high 110 points. Panarin has points in 61 of New York’s 76 games this season.

The Rangers completed a four-game season series sweep of the Devils, less than a year after New Jersey won the teams’ first-round playoff series in seven games.

Palat got the Devils on the scoreboard at 2:11 of the second with his 10th, and Smith got his fourth at 9:53 to tie it 2-2. Hischier put New Jersey ahead with his 25th with 8:36 remaining in the middle period.

“It was a good atmosphere, a good game,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short.”

The game got off to a physical start as all 10 skaters on the ice got into brawls right off the opening faceoff. Eight players were ejected after receiving game misconducts 2 seconds into the game, forcing both teams to play with four fewer skaters the rest of the way.

“After a situation like that, the rest of the team has to pick up a lot of slack and a lot of minutes” said Devils forward Kurtis MacDermid, who had a prolonged bout with Rangers rookie Matt Rempe at center ice.

Head coaches Peter Laviolette of the Rangers and New Jersey’s Travis Green were also yelling at each other from their respective benches before play resumed after the fighting. Shesterkin and Kahkonen did not participate in the fighting.

“I have no idea why Peter was upset. Their guys were lining up fights before the game,” Green said. “You’re going to start yelling, you’re going to get it back.”

Laviolette said the outburst was a result of “emotions more than anything.”

Smith, the former Ranger who fought Washington’s Tom Wilson in a similarly anticipated bout in May 2021 at the Garden, said the situation provided entertainment at the very least.

“It was very similar feeling, same kind of juice,” Smith said in reference to his expected battle with Wilson after the bruising Capitals forward roughed up Panarin in a previous game. ”I would have liked to have started but that’s just how it goes. I think everyone got their dollar’s worth and it’s an expensive building.

Panarin got his team-high 45th goal at 9:22 of the first to get the Rangers on the scoreboard first.

Lafreniere added his 26th with 1:57 left in the first.

“I thought our guys battled hard and fought hard,” Laviolette said. ”Great response in the third period to make sure we got the win. That’s pretty much it.”

Laviolette said he didn’t anticipate a group skirmish of such magnitude to start the contest.

“Our guys were reacting to what was happening on the ice,” he said. ”I thought they did a fantastic job.”

UP NEXT

Devils: At Ottawa on Saturday.

Rangers: At Detroit on Friday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL



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