The New Jersey Devils, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2018, will continue their Stanley Cup journey by defeating their Hudson River rival, the New York Rangers, 4-0, in Game 7 of their first-round series. round. .
With their first playoff series win in 11 years, the Devils will now head to Carolina to face the Hurricanes, who defeated the New York Islanders in six games in their first-round matchup.
It felt like all the Devils throughout this game as they constantly pressured the Rangers on both ends of the ice. However, New York goalie Igor Shesterkin kept his team in the game after a scoreless first period, but the Devils finally broke through in the second.
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The first goal of the game came from an unexpected player, as Michael McLeod plowed his way around Igor Shesterkin, who was in a full split after Ondrej Palat dodged past two Rangers and sent a beautiful saucer pass past his teammate’s stick. equipment.
It was a short goal for the Devils, although a 4-on-4 tilt just ticked off the clock. This is McLeod’s first goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs, as it is also his first playoff series.
But the momentum for the Devils, who seemed to stay on their side of the bench throughout the second period, reached an even higher level when John Marino sped toward the net with just over five minutes to go.
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Marino hung onto a pair of Rangers before attempting a shot at the net that Shesterkin deflected. But the puck ended up right on Marino’s sheet again and he wasted no time in flicking it into the net, where Tomás Tártaro waited patiently. He fed one to Shesterkin to make it 2-0, and the Prudential Center went wild.
Then, after the Rangers showed a bit more of a fight in the third period, the Devils never wavered and pulled off defensive stops that eventually led to the dagger goal.
Jack Hughes grabbed the puck and sped down the ice with two teammates following behind for a 3-on-1. Hughes opted to pass the plate to Erik Haula, who edged past Shesterkin for the only time to make it 3-0 with less than five minutes to go. for the end.
Jesper Bratt scored his first goal of the series after that with a goal into the empty net.
The team that leads by two goals or more in a Game 7 is now 128-13 in NHL history.
The Rangers were shut out in Game 5 at The Rock by 22-year-old Akira Schmid, and he did the same when it mattered most for New Jersey here in Game 7.
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Before the game started, it was interesting to see what head coach Lindy Ruff was going to do after Schmid was pulled in Game 6 for Vitek Vanecek after giving up five goals. Vanecek struggled in the first two games of this series, leading to Schmid’s arrival at the net.
It turned out to be the right decision.
Schmid made 31 saves, some of which he was hurt by the Rangers. His gloved hand was sharper, though, as he used it to snatch potential goals much to the delight of Devils fans in the stands and at home watching.
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The Game 1 puck delivery will arrive on Wednesday night.