NEWARK, N.J. – Defenceman Brendan Bell snapped a tie with 3:04 left, and the New York Rangers earned a pre-season split with the New Jersey Devils in a 4-3 victory on Friday night.
Bell flipped a shot from the right point that got past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, giving the Rangers the win. New York lost 2-1 in overtime to New Jersey on Wednesday night in Albany, N.Y.
The Devils nearly tied it with 2:22 remaining but a goal was waved off because Nick Palmieri was in the crease.
Brad Richards had a goal and assist in his Rangers debut, and Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik added goals for New York. Chad Johnson stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period for the win.
Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for New Jersey, which erased a 3-1 deficit in the second period. Brodeur played the entire game for the Devils and made 27 saves.
The Devils took a 1-0 lead just 1:32 in when Henrique beat Martin Biron with a backhander in front during a power play. But the advantage didn’t last long as the Rangers struck for a pair of goals just over a minute apart.
Richards, in his first game with New York since signing a nine-year, US$60 million deal, tied it at 4:22 when his centring pass intended for Wojtek Wolski was deflected in by New Jersey rookie defenceman Adam Larsson.
Stepan put the Rangers in front at 5:43 when he took a pass from Ruslan Fedotenko at the outer edge of the right circle and snapped a shot past Brodeur, who made his pre-season debut.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Brodeur said. “It was the first time in pads in a game situation for the first time in a long time, but I felt good. They rolled out three lines of NHL-ready players out there in a pre-season game, and that’s a lot for this time of year. But there’s plenty to work on.”
Gaborik, expected to be on Richards’ right this season, made it 3-1 at 1:32 of the second period with a power-play goal. He also assisted on Richards’ first-period goal. New York was successful in its experiment of using five forwards and no defencemen on the power play.
“The power play looked pretty good,” Gaborik said. “We were moving the puck well. Five forwards … so far, so good. Hopefully, we won’t make any turnovers so we can keep it up there.”
The Devils stormed back in the second on Josefson’s goal at 7:26, and Kovalchuk’s goal with 3:15 left in the period and 1 second remaining on New Jersey’s two-man advantage.
Biron was replaced by Johnson at the start of the third period after stopping 13 of 16 shots. Henrik Lundqvist got the night off after playing against the Devils two nights earlier.
This was New York’s second-to-last game in North America before the regular season begins. The Rangers will play at Philadelphia on Monday before heading to Europe for four exhibition games, beginning next week. New York will then face Los Angeles and Anaheim in season-opening games in Sweden.