NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Assistant coach Lindy Ruff has been working on the New York Rangers’ penalty-killing the last two weeks. His efforts are paying off in a big way.
Alexandar Georgiev stopped 33 shots for his third career shutout and the Rangers scored two short-handed goals while killing off eight New Jersey power plays in a 4-0 win over the Devils on Saturday.
New York limited New Jersey to seven shots on goal in its 15 minutes with the man advantage. Since giving up seven power-play goals on 11 chances in losses at Tampa Bay and Florida this month, the Rangers have allowed just four in 29 chances the last seven games.
“Certainly not the way you draw up winning the hockey game, taking that many penalties and having that many penalty minutes to kill,” coach David Quinn said. “Just so proud of our guys, the way we found a way to win. Really gutted it out, stood tall on our penalty kill.
“We went through a stretch where our penalty kill was really hurting us. … Give Lindy a lot of credit. He’s worked awfully hard at it and our guys have really responded.”
New York improved to 4-0-1 in its last five games. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist, and Jesper Fast, Adam Fox and Brady Skjei also scored.
Georgiev had 11 saves in the first, 10 in the second and 12 in the third to get New York’s first shutout of the season.
“When you look at it 4-0 and you kill that many penalties, your goalie needs to be good and he was good when he needed to be,” Quinn said. “Georgie had a big part in this win, that’s for sure.”
Mackenzie Blackwood had 19 saves for New Jersey, which lost for the fourth time in six games.
“There’s not much to be said,” the Devils’ Taylor Hall said. “It was a huge special teams game and their (power play) got one on a limited number of chances and we got zero, and then outscored by two. It’s unacceptable.”
The Devils had five power plays in the second period, including one that carried over from the final minute of the opening period. However, they managed just three shots on goal - all by Nico Hischier. New Jersey had six shots go wide, and an attempt by Jesper Bratt went over the net on the third man advantage.
The fifth penalty, a double-minor on Libor Hajek for high-sticking Wayne Simmonds, began in the final minute of the second.
“Obviously we don’t want to take this many penalties but we did a good job,” Zibanejad said. “Even to start the third with a double minor. We hung in there. … We stayed with our structure. We didn’t give them that many chances.”
Zibanejad, playing his third game after missing 13 with an injury, made it 2-0 with a short-handed goal from the left side on a give-and-go with Brendan Lemieux at 2:35 of the third.
The Devils got a sixth power play at 5:21 when Chris Kreider was whistled for a five-minute major for boarding Kevin Rooney. Both also got majors for fighting and Kreider received a misconduct.
“The guys helped a lot,” Georgiev said. “Even when the other team had a five-minute stretch of power play, we didn’t let them have too much zone time.”
The Rangers took advantage on the Devils’ opportunity once again. Fast converted a pass from Jacob Trouba on a 3-on-1 rush at 5:52 for his third of the season.
Skjei added an empty-netter with 2:42 left.
When the Devils did get shots on goal at even strength, Georgiev was there to make the save.
The Devils outshot the Rangers 11-7 in a tight first period. Travis Zajac had a shot hit the goalpost less than two minutes in, and Lemieux did the same on a rebound of a shot by Trouba a couple minutes later.
Fox got the Rangers on the scoreboard on a power play. He got a cross-ice pass from Kaapo Kakko from the right side near the boards to the left side of the goal and quickly put it past Blackwood for his fifth with 7:15 left in the first.
NOTES: New York F Filip Chytil, a first-round pick in 2017, played in his 100th career game. … Fox has two goals and four assists in his last seven games. … Devils F Jack Hughes was out with a lower-body injury, missing what would have been his second meeting against the Rangers and Kakko - who went No. 2 in this year’s NHL draft after New Jersey selected Hughes with the first pick. Hughes, who was injured when he took a shot off his leg on Thursday at Montreal, has four goals and seven assists in 24 games. Kakko has six goals and five assists in 22 games. … Rooney returned to the lineup in Hughes’ place after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. … New Jersey was shut out for the fourth time this season.
Rangers: Host Vegas on Monday night.
Devils: At Buffalo on Monday night.
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