John Marino prevented a two-on-one off the bat, as Graves had turned the puck over to Zibanejad — Marino had to go down to the ice in a slide to block the pass across. The first penalty of the game came later, just two and a half minutes or so into the game. Nathan Bastian went off for tripping Motte. Nico Hischier would have none of this, as he was sprung for a one-on-one with Fox, who held him going to the net! He evened the penalties, as he got a backhand rebound chance on net. After four-on-four, the Devils had a half minute of power play time. Ruff kept Siegenthaler on the ice to help keep any shorthanded chances at bay.
With the fourth line again, 11 and a half minutes in, Damon Severson took a tripping call on Tyler Motte when he hit the puck and then Motte’s skate. The Rangers went to the power play with 8:16 left in the period. The Rangers had plenty of puck movement as the Devils failed to clear — but Tarasenko missed the net with a one-timer, and Schmid made a huge glove save on Zibanejad in the second minute. McLeod won the following draw, and the Devils cleared the puck. Siegenthaler ended the kill with one last clear, and the game returned to even strength with six minutes left in the period.
Kevin Bahl took a delay of game right then. With 5:58 left in the period, the Devils went back to the kill. Schmid made a one-timer save on Zibanejad, and John Marino got a clear after 40 seconds passed. Siegenthaler made a block on Patrick Kane, and Haula poked it out again. Late in the kill, McLeod and Sharangovich worked the puck to the offensive zone a couple times, with Yegor taking a long-range shot wide before Bahl came out of the box.
Less than a minute later, Jack Hughes was sprung for a breakaway, and he was sticked from behind as he nearly scored — but the puck trickled just wide. They missed a clear hook here from Lindgren. Later, the referee got in the way of a defensive zone pass, setting up a netside redirection that Schmid had to be quick to save. Nonetheless, they finished the first period with no score.
Jesper Bratt’s shot from the point deflected off Hischier’s skate into the side of the net. So close, just 40 seconds into the period. A minute and a half later, Jack Hughes skated himself into trouble, leading to a two-on-one led by Alexis Lafreniere. He shot it into the glove of Akira Schmid.
A few minutes later, Vincent Trocheck beat Damon Severson to the outside and got the puck to the front of the net. Patrick Kane got on the rebound, backhanding it — but Schmid made the second stop and McLeod shoved the rebound into him for the cover. The Hughes line later stayed out for far too long, getting hemmed in on a very long shift that was thankfully ended by a bad Ryan Lindgren shot that was blocked out of play.
With Timo Meier on the fourth line for a shift, he drew a penalty for high sticking from K’Andre Miller behind the Devils’ net. The Devils went to their first full power play with 12 minutes to play in the period. Ruff sent out Hischier, Hughes, Meier, Mercer, and Hamilton. The Rangers won the draw and cleared the puck. Jack Hughes led the team up the ice, and he fell behind the net, allowing Fox to clear again. They took an offsides 40 seconds in, at which point the second unit of Haula, Palat, Tatar, Bratt, and Severson came out. Bratt was hit high off the draw, which got no call — but they called a trip on Bratt seconds later. Bratt was high sticked in the face just before the trip.
The teams went to 50 seconds of four-on-four. Jonas Siegenthaler batted down a puck into the crease for Schmid to cover with 23 seconds left at four-on-four. McLeod won that draw, and the Rangers took it back into their own zone soon after. Ondrej Palat, on his horse, forced the puck away and drove to the net as Michael McLeod came speeding down the other side. Palat slid it through Zibanejad, and McLeod got the puck on his backhand to beat Shesterkin! Shorthanded goal to take the lead at 1-0!
The Rangers then had a minute of power play time. Nico Hischier took the puck off a blocked down shot, and he cleared. Shesterkin sent it back, and the Devils took it back at him. Mercer, with Hischier on the far side, went for the pass — and the pass was deflected wide of the goal by the Rangers. The Devils killed the penalty. Tatar had a chance later, as Dougie Hamilton was set up by Meier for a big shot through a screen. The puck sat still in the crease, but the Rangers got to it before Tatar even saw it.
K’Andre Miller was hobbled by a huge block on a wide open Nico Hischier. Vincent Trocheck then caused a stir when he slashed at Akira Schmid, who had already covered a loose puck on a missed pass to Trocheck. John Marino took him into the boards as the teams came together, but nothing came out of it. After play resumed, Yegor Sharangovich picked up a turnover from Trocheck and shot on goal as Lindgren took the pass away. He was able to get the rebound, but Shesterkin gloved the second shot. Schmid had to make a few shots on the Rangers’ third line, blocking some and deflecting the pucks high before he found one shot he could glove.
Then, John Marino and Tomas Tatar had their best moments as New Jersey Devils yet. The Rangers opened the ice, not respecting the skills of Marino. He split the defense and almost buried a backhand shot, but it went wide. But he kept with it, backhanding the puck back out to Tatar, who beat Igor high! 2-0, Devils, with four minutes to play! And just as the second period was ending, Schmid went sprawling to keep them up two.
TOMAS TATAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR pic.twitter.com/jDAe42tc97— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) May 2, 2023
The first few minutes of the final frame passed by the wayside, with the Devils putting more pressure on the Rangers than the other way around. However, they took four icing calls in the first four minutes. Play slowed to a crawl early, which I did not like from a defensive standpoint. Schmid had to make a big save on a tipped Tarasenko shot off the fourth icing faceoff. Jacob Trouba, a minute later, shot it off Schmid’s pad.
Coming the other way, Nico Hischier chased a loose puck with K’Andre Miller to a loose puck. They were beat to it by Shesterkin, who got taken out by Hischier as Miller rode him. Meier shot the puck into the empty net, but it was waved off for a penalty on Miller. Eh. The Devils went to the power play. Tatar started this off with a high shot, but it missed the net. Shortly after, Jacob Trouba threw a hit high on Timo Meier, and play was blown dead. Meier left the ice on his own power, bleeding from the nose. The Rangers killed the rest of that power play.
Akira Schmid continued to keep the Rangers’ shots out. Trocheck had a one-timer on a crossing pass that he gloved with flair, as Patrick Kane skated by to give him a shot on the pass-by. Panarin set up the shot with a very nice pass. After a break, McLoed won a defensive zone draw, and the Devils worked it to the neutral zone.
After the Devils took the puck away from Jacob Trouba, they rushed up the ice into a three-on-one. Jack Hughes, with Marino as the trailer and with Haula on the far side, passed across. Haula’s one-timer beat Shesterkin! 3-0, with under six minutes to play!
ERIK HAULA BLOWS THE ROOF OFF THIS PLACE! pic.twitter.com/5d50Jp4DJ8— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) May 2, 2023
Igor Shesterkin left for the bench with 4:04 to play. Graves had a block early, and the Rangers kept cycling. The Devils pushed the puck down the ice, and Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier were hot on the trail. Nico took the netfront as Bratt collected behind the net, backhanding it into the net as Fox flailed for the save! 4-0, with three minutes to play!
The Devils kept it clamped up tight in front of Schmid in the dying moments. The Rangers threw everything they had, but they were stifled and stunned. Schmid covered up a couple pucks as time wound down slowly, but surely. The teams stopped playing in the final several seconds, as the Devils wrapped up their victory. The Devils advanced past the Rangers!
That advancing to the next round feeling is pic.twitter.com/7PSoJdmVVR— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) May 2, 2023
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Akira Schmid, The Goaltender
I don’t need to check the stats tonight. Akira Schmid was the best player on the ice by a wide margin. He was making flashy glove saves, sprawling out to get everything — and he got everything! After the first ten minutes, I never felt uneasy with him facing down a shot. He was locked in from the outset, and I thought this was the best he played all series. The positioning was there, the swagger was there, and the saves were there. The torpedo, Akira Schmid, everybody.
It's even prettier in slow mo. pic.twitter.com/GY6qovmHmf— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) May 2, 2023
Ondrej Palat, The Playoff King
We’ll get to the game winner in the next section, but the work of Ondrej Palat was huge tonight. He was tenacious, physical, and smart with the puck the whole game. If not for his work on the wall, the Devils would not have broken ahead as early as they did. And what would have happened in that alternate timeline? I don’t know, and I don’t care. In this moment, Ondrej Palat created the game-winning goal in his first Game 7 with the Devils.
Michael McLeod, The Unlikely Hero
Who would have picked him to be the hero tonight? Many people thought he might be an odd guy out on this roster at the start of the season. But in these times, Michael McLeod has been the best player he can be. As the longest-tenured first round pick of the New Jersey Devils, he has been looked over and relegated down the lineup over the years. This series, he’s been fast and cool with the puck. That coolness carried into his goal and every touch he made tonight: he was great.
Timo Meier, The Warrior
I know a lot of people expect to talk about the big hit from Jacob Trouba. To me, it’s a whatever situation. Timo Meier skated off on his own, and came back to the bench later on. He’s an absolute warrior, but he’s been that way all series. He threw the most hits of all the players on the ice tonight, and he was under the Rangers’ skin from puck drop in Game One. Ultimately, the hit from Trouba was emblematic of the Rangers’ effort: too little, too late. It was just good to see Timo come back on his own accord.
Timo Meier’s nose is bloody and beaten up. He’s getting it checked out now. But definitely in good spirits and feeling OK in the postgame locker room.— Ryan Novozinsky (@ryannovo62) May 2, 2023
The New Jersey Devils
How about those New Jersey Devils? From one of the worst teams last year to one of the best in the league right now — it has been a wild ride. But for those of you who thought: okay, we’re clear. We can relax now. Guess what?
We have a game on Wednesday night.
There is no rest to be had. No waiting. The rival has been defeated, but the stakes are now even higher. The effort that we saw from the Devils tonight is what will be necessary to get through the following rounds. Yes, I was reassured when I saw how intense guys like Nico Hischier and John Marino were playing tonight. I felt good when I saw Yegor Sharangovich using his fresh legs to create chances for the Devils. I loved seeing Jack Hughes settle the puck down and try to pick the Rangers apart. But there needs to be more of it — let’s see how far they can go.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy tonight.
What did you think of tonight’s game? What did you think of the series? How happy are you??? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading. This is Chris — glad to say we have beaten the Rangers in Game Seven.