Carrick scores late as Devils beat Rangers, avoid sweep
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — For a game between two teams getting ready to pack their equipment and go on vacation at the end of the week, the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers played some old-fashioned heated hockey.
There were three fights, up-and-down action and something different, the Devils finally won a game.
"The thing that surprised me was how intense the game was, in a game where two teams are out of the playoffs, but rivals, and I am sure this was an important game to them as it was to us," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "We had a chance to sweep them and I am sure they didn't like losing the first three. It was a heated game for us. Give them credit."
Devils defenseman Connor Carrick got the biggest goal, scoring with 4:10 left to break a tie and lead the Devils to 4-2 on Monday night, allowing New Jersey to avoid being swept in their season series by their longtime rivals.
"Both teams are hungry, trying to gain an edge and tempers flare out there," Carrick said after scoring his first goal since being acquired from Dallas at the trade deadline. "Hockey is a unique sport in that if you're that unhappy you can settle it in another avenue and that's the route some guys took."
There have been only three regular-season sweeps in the series since the Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982. The Rangers had the most recent one in 2014-15, the year they won the Presidents' Trophy.
Miles Wood and Travis Zajac also scored in the Devils' regular-season home finale, while Joey Anderson added an empty-net goal to ice the game.
"We kind of owed them," said Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who had 32 saves. "It's an intense game for sure and that's why you play the game. We wanted to end here on a good note."
Brett Howden and Filip Chytil scored for the Rangers, who feel behind 2-0 in the first period.
"It's frustrating for me not to be able to get a win," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who had 37 saves in losing his fifth straight. "I felt like I worked myself into this game and felt pretty good but it reflects my season overall. You work hard and feel pretty good, but it's not enough."
The game-winning goal was set up Drew Stafford. He stripped the puck from Vladislav Nemestnikov near the Rangers' blue line and found Carrick for a shot from between the circles.
"I gave him a good yell and Staff's a veteran player with great poise and settled the puck and was able to find me and put it right on my tape," Carrick said. "It was an easy pass to receive and I just tried to go across the grain with the shot based on where Hank was coming from."
In the best of the three fights, Brandan Lemieux bloodied Wood.
After the Rangers took nine of the game's first 10 shots, Wood beat Lundqvist with a shot to the top corner at 3:54 of the first.
Zajac got the second one with a tip of Damon Severson's shot on a power play at 14:34.
Howden cut the deficit in half, beating Blackwood on a 3-on-1 rush.
The Rangers thought they had tied the score 16 seconds later when the red light came on after Chris Kreider's shot. The play was reviewed and the shot hit off the goalpost and did not entirely cross the goal line.
New York tied it on its first power play when Chytil snapped a 22-game goal scoring drought, putting the rebound of Vinni Lettieri's shot into a wide-open net for his 11th goal.
NOTES: Rangers F Pavel Buchnevich, who has a career-high seven-game point scoring streak, did not play after being hurt (concussion protocol) Sunday. ... The Devils were 15 for 15 on the penalty kill over their past seven games before Chytil's goal. ... Rangers D-F Brandan Smith was a healthy scratch after picking up four penalties Sunday. Lemieux replaced him.
Rangers: Host Ottawa on Wednesday.
Devils: At Carolina on Thursday night