Jack Hughes had two goals and an assist in New Jersey’s three-goal second period, Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 47 shots and the Devils beat the New York Rangers 4-3 Tuesday night.
Miles Wood had a goal and an assist, and Travis Zajac also scored to give New Jersey at least a point in each of its first three games (2-0-1). The Devils gave coach Lindy Ruff, a Rangers assistant the previous three seasons, a win against his former team.
Blackwood, starting for the third straight game, made seven saves in the first period and 20 each in the second and third. He had seven stops in the final 4:51.
"That was a great effort by everyone blocking shots at the end, pushing stuff to the outside, keeping them on the flanks and not letting the shots go through," Blackwood said. "You’ve got to find a way to close out tight games on the road. And I think we’re all pretty proud of the way that we shut that one out tonight at the end."
Hughes, who nearly had an another point on a disallowed goal, gave Blackwood credit for the Devils’ early-season success.
"He’s the reason we’re winning hockey games right now," Hughes said. "Gives us a lot of a lot of confidence knowing that he’s back there and he’s going to shut the door."
Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad scored on the power play, and Filip Chytil also had a goal for the Rangers. Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox each had two assists.
Alexandar Georgiev gave up four goals on 20 shots through two periods. Igor Shesterkin came on to begin the third and finished with eight saves.
Chytil pulled the Rangers within one as he knocked in the rebound of an attempt by Phil Di Giuseppe at the 7-minute mark of the third period. It was the first even-strength goal allowed by the Devils this season.
New York pulled Shesterkin during its sixth power play with a little more than 2 minutes left for a two-man advantage, but couldn’t get the tying goal.
"We got looks, we spent a lot of time in their zone," Kreider said of the Rangers' push in the third. "I thought we did a pretty good job executing what we wanted to do, we just didn’t get the bounces. We continued to jump on loose pucks and hem them in. ... We weren’t just working the perimeter on the power play. We were getting rubber to the net."
Zibanejad left the game with about 4 minutes to go after sliding hard into the boards.
The Rangers tied the score 1-all early in the second. Blackwood stopped Panarin’s initial shot before Kreider came in and attempted a backward pass. The puck deflected off Devils defenseman Ryan Murray’s skate and through Blackwood’s legs at 2:50.
Hughes regained the lead for New Jersey less than 90 seconds later. Ty Smith’s shot was deflected up by Georgiev over the goalie and off the post. With the puck sitting in the crease in front of the goal line, Hughes swooped in and put it in.
Kreider nearly tied it again on a power play, but his shot rang off the post at 7:19.
Hughes then pushed the Devils’ lead to 3-1 just 1:19 later on a breakaway as he skated in and put a backhand through Georgiev’s legs.
Zibanejad pulled the Rangers back within one on a one-timer from a sharp angle from the left side with 7:51 left in the middle period.
"We didn’t have the start we wanted," New York defenseman Jacob Trouba said. "We got to a game we like more. ... There’s some things we want to adjust, but some things to be happy with, not to be super discouraged about. I think getting off to a faster start is something we want to do."
Wood restored the Devils’ two-goal lead with 4 minutes left on their power play. Hughes sent a pass from the left side through traffic to the right doorstep, and the puck went off Wood’s stick and right skate and in. It was Wood’s third goal of the season and 100th career point.
P.K. Subban appeared to extend the Devils’ lead with 2:15 remaining in the period, but the goal was disallowed after the Rangers challenged for offside on the play.
Zajac got the Devils on the scoreboard 32 seconds into the game, scoring on the rebound of a shot by Wood as the Devils took advantage while the Rangers were making a line change.
Panarin, who scored twice in the Rangers' 5-0 win over the Islanders on Saturday night, had his second straight two-point game. The star left wing had a career-high 95 points in 69 games a year ago in his first season in New York.
Zajac's goal was his 99th career point. It was also his 18th goal against the Rangers, tying him with Bobby Holik for third-most in franchise history against New York. Patrik Elias (23) tops the list, followed by John MacLean (21).
This was one of 10 games for the Rangers this season in which they are not playing the same opponent multiple times. For the Devils, this was one of nine times they don’t play the same team in back-to-back games. However, the Rangers and Devils will play each other four straight games April 13-18.
Devils: At the New York Islanders on Thursday night before a three-game homestand.
Rangers: At the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night to open a two-game series and four-game road trip.