NEWARK, N.J. – Michael Del Zotto scored on the power play 52 seconds into overtime to give the New York Rangers a 5-4 pre-season victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Del Zotto beat Johan Hedberg from the dot in the left circle to give the Rangers (2-0) a sweep of the home and home series with the Devils. Del Zotto also added three assists in the third period as the Rangers scored their final four goals on the power play.
“The chances we did have, we capitalized on,” Del Zotto said. “Four power-play goals like that is huge. Hopefully, we can carry it into the season and keep it consistent all year. It’s a big confidence boost. We kept it simple, put pucks on net and got some dirty goals.”
The power-play outburst was surprising considering that Marian Gaborik, the Rangers’ top gunner last season with 42 goals, wasn’t in the lineup.
Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy, his power-play point partner, picked up the slack.
“We fought back in the third period,” Gilroy said. “It was pretty cool. The power play, we haven’t really worked on it and we had one in the first period that was pretty ugly. We settled down after that, got a few rushes, and it turned out pretty well.”
Henrik Lundqvist, seeing his first action of the pre-season, stopped 25 shots for the Rangers.
Ryan Callahan, Gilroy, Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko also scored for New York.
Zach Parise set up three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Devils fell to 0-3 in the pre-season, with every game going to overtime or a shootout.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Andy Greene, Matt Taormina and Brian Rolston scored for the Devils. Hedberg, Martin Brodeur’s backup this season, had a poor night, allowing the five goals on only 20 shots.
“If you ask Johan, I’m sure he wishes he had a couple back,” Devils coach John MacLean said. “He’s finding his game. He’s a veteran and sometimes it takes a little bit longer. It’s one of those things. It’s pre-season. You let it go. We have full confidence in him.”
Parise set up both first-period goals as the Devils took a 2-1 lead.
Kovalchuk struck first with his second goal in two games. The Devils’ US$100 million winger took a feed from Parise and picked the shortside on Lundqvist at 2:51.
A wide-open Callahan pulled New York even at 3:33, converting a pass from Fedotenko who eluded Devils defenceman Henrik Tallinder along the boards.
Parise make the key play again, sliding the puck to defenceman Greene who beat Lundqvist from the high slot at 5:58.
In the second, Parise did the dirty work to keep the puck alive behind the Rangers net that led to Taormina’s drive from the left point that put New Jersey ahead 3-1 at 13:11.
Gilroy scored on the power play 1:06 into the third as the Rangers trimmed the Devils lead. Although he didn’t get an assist, Sean Avery played an instrumental role by screening Hedberg from just outside the crease.
Rolston restored New Jersey’s two-goal advantage at 4-2 with his tally at 5:36.
But the Rangers pulled even at 4 on power-play goals by Anisimov at 10:01 and Fedotenko, a blast from the top of the right circle, at 12:33 that sent the game into overtime.