NEW YORK (AP) — After losing big in the first two games at home, New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff turned to rookie goalie Akira Schmid for the start in the crucial Game 3. The move paid off and the Devils are back in the series.
Dougie Hamilton scored 11:36 into overtime and the Devils beat the New York Rangers 2-1 on Saturday night to cut their series deficit to 2-1.
Jack Hughes scored and Jesper Bratt had two assists for New Jersey, which lost the first two games at home by 5-1 scores. Schmid, starting in place of Vitek Vanecek, finished with 35 saves.
“We got whacked two games in a row … better feeling tonight,” Hughes said. “That’s huge for our belief tonight. We’re back in this thing and we’re excited. Now we’re really pumped to play the next game.”
The Devils turned to the 22-year-old Schmid after Vanecek gave up nine goals on 52 shots over the first two games. Schmid became the first rookie goalie to start a playoff game for the Devils since Martin Brodeur in 1994.
Schmid had 11 saves in the first period, 10 in the second, six in the third and eight in overtime to win his first playoff start.
“We know what he’s like, he’s like stone-cold, always relaxed and poised,” Hughes said about the young goalie. “We have a lot of confidence in (Schmid) coming in. I think he showed everyone how good he is and we’d like him to keep that going.”
Chris Kreider scored for New York. Igor Shesterkin stopped 26 shots.
The Rangers had 19 turnovers after combining for nine in the first two games of the series.
“You’re going to turn the puck over, but at times today we made the wrong decision,” New York’s Mika Zibanejad said. “That’s what they want. … They’re good, they pressure hard everywhere and try to force those turnovers so they can get it to their quick forwards and go on the counter-attack.”
In the extra period, Bratt found Hamilton on the right side, and the defenseman skated into the right circle and beat Shesterkin on the glove side.
“It started with a good breakout, a good flip out, and tried to get up in the rush and obviously a great play by Bratt to find me,” Hamilton said. “I think there were a couple of bodies in front, so i was just trying to be patient when i got the puck, saw a little spot to shoot at and thankfully I hit it.”
Game 4 is back at Madison Square Garden on Monday night and Game 5 will be in New Jersey on Thursday night.
Schmid made a left pad save on a shot by Braden Schneider about 1:40 into overtime. Shesterkin denied an attempt on the left side by Timo Meier two minutes later, and then the follow try on the rebound by Bratt. Schmid then gloved a shot by Vladimir Tarasenko six minutes into the extra period.
“The guys did a great job helping me out, blocking shots,” Schmid said. “Makes my life a little easier.”
Bratt had a try from 10 feet away 8:14 into the third but his attempt was turned aside by Shesterkin to keep the score tied.
The Rangers got their fifth power play of the game with six minutes remaining when the Devils’ Ryan Graves was sent off for high-sticking. Artemi Panarin had chance to give the Rangers the lead but his shot from the left circle was wide left of the net 32 seconds into the advantage.
Kreider got the Rangers on the scoreboard first as he fired a shot past Schmid’s blocker from the left circle at 3:39 of the second period. It was Kreider’s fifth goal of the series — after the first four came on power plays — and 39th postseason score of his career.
With the Devils on their third power play of the game, Hughes got a pass from Hamilton on the left side, skated into the left circle and fired a shot that beat Shesterkin on the blocker side with 9:23 left in the second. It was Hughes’ second goal of the series — the first came on a penalty shot in the third period of Game 1 — and the New Jersey’s second on a power play.
SETTING A FIRST
Kreider became the first Rangers player to score five goals in the first three playoff games of a postseason.
The Rangers came in 4 for 10 on the power play over the first two games, but went 0 for 5 in Game 3.
“They did a job adjusting to our power play tonight,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Our execution wasn’t good tonight as it was the other two nights and that was the biggest difference.”
New Jersey, which was 1 for 8 coming in, was 1 for 3.
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