Joseph Blandisi and John Quenneville have become the best of friends this season playing for the Devils' top farm team in Albany. Their chemistry was the difference Tuesday night in New Jersey's first win over the New York Rangers this season.
Blandisi set up Quenneville's first NHL goal and Quennville returned the favor in overtime, setting up his pal's winner on an odd-man rush with 54.6 seconds left in a 3-2 win that left the Rangers with a rare road loss.
"I think it starts off the ice, the friendship we've built over the last couple of years," Blandisi said. "I think it goes a long way on the ice, too. The guys in the dressing room definitely notice it. On the ice, the chemistry is pretty undeniable. It's pretty exciting to play in the NHL with one of my best buds."
After Cory Schneider made saves on Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh shot the puck wide of the net, setting up the odd-man rush. Quenneville carried the puck up the ice and slid a pass that allowed Blandisi to break in alone on goaltender Antti Raanta and beat him with a backhander.
"When I got the puck, I knew it was going to be a 2-on-1," Quenneville said. "I wanted to pull the D over towards me. I wanted to drag them across to give Joe some space."
Blandisi had no problem scoring his third goal of the season and giving the Devils their second win in 14 games (2-10-2).
"It's always tough when it is 2-on-1," Raanta said.
The win was the Devils' first in four games with the Rangers this season, while the point gave New York at least one point in 27 of 36 road games (26-9-1 record).
"We didn't want to get swept by that team," said Schneider, who made 38 saves. "We had leads against them late twice this year, so it could have been two wins against them. We wanted to make sure got one. I'd say they've all been pretty exciting games. It may not mean anything in terms of the standings or the big picture, but it was a big win for us."
Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash scored for the Rangers, who lead the NHL with 26 road wins. Antti Raanta made 26 saves, but he had no chance on Blandisi's backhander.
Nash snapped a nine-game goal drought and tied it at 2 at 1:21 of the third period with a backhander in close with New York on a power play.
The first 35 minutes of the game were surprisingly boring for a Rangers-Devils game, but things picked up after Quenneville scored on a power play at 15:16 of the second period for his first NHL goal.
A little less than two minutes later, Lindberg tied the game for the Rangers with a shot in close after taking a pass from Pavel Buchnevich.
Hall put the Devils back in front 1:29 later, scoring from the left circle after taking an excellent cross-ice pass from Kyle Palmieri.
Before the period ended, Devils forward Miles Wood took exception to being taken into the boards near the end of the New Jersey bench by Nick Holden. He went after the Rangers' defenseman and two fights erupted. Wood got 17 minutes in penalties, and the Rangers went on the power play that Nash converted.
NOTES: Quenneville is a second cousin to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. ... Shane Daneyko, the son of long-time Devil Ken Daneyko, sang the national anthem. ... Lindberg has five of his seven goals in the last 15 games. ... Rangers rookies Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey and Buchnevich have tallied at least 20 points this season. Prior to this season, the last time the Rangers had three rookies with 20 or more points was 1999-2000 (Mike York, Jan Hlavac and Kim Johnsson).
Rangers: Host the Islanders on Wednesday night.
Devils: At Toronto on Thursday night.
This story has been corrected to clarify that Blandisi and Quenneville only played together at Albany this season.