NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Rangers could have talked about Artemi Panarin’s 64th and 65th assists of the season or Chris Kreider’s 47th goal or goaltender Alexandar Georgiev’s fifth straight win as a starter.
Their focus instead was on the hit rookie defenseman Braden Schneider laid on New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Boqvist in the first period with New York down 1-0. It sparked a fight, led to a Rangers power play and paved the way for a 3-1 victory over their cross-rival rivals Tuesday night.
“It was a good, solid hit,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Obviously we got the PP goal off of that. Good for the kid to step in there.”
Ryan Strome tied the game with a power-play goal and Kreider matched Mark Messier for sixth place in franchise history for goals in a season when he scored late in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead they never lost.
“For a young kid, he’s so professional,” Strome said of Schneider. “I skated with him a few times when he was scratched. He’s going to have a really long career. We’re lucky to have him.”
Panarin had assists on both power-play goals, and Kreider had one on Strome’s goal as New York improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven games.
Kreider set franchise records with his 25th power-play goal and 10th game-winning goal of the season.
Defenseman Justin Braun, acquired in a trade-deadline deal with Philadelphia, scored his first goal with the Rangers to give New York a two-goal advantage in the third period.
“I felt good, pretty sharp. We have a little rhythm going,” said Georgiev, who made 20 saves in a defensive-minded game.
Yegor Sharangovich scored the Devils’ lone goal — giving them a 1-0 lead at 6:56 in the first for his 20th of the season. He stole the puck from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba in the New York zone and beat Georgiev with a backhand.
Three minutes later, Sharangovich got into a fight with Schneider after the defenseman delivered a hard check on Boqvist. Sharangovich got 17 minutes in penalties and a cut on his head, and did not return.
“I think he probably overreacted a little bit. It was a good hit, nothing that was wrong,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “I’ll never criticize when a teammate comes to a defense of another teammate.”
Strome, who missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, tied it on the ensuing power play after taking Kreider’s pass and beating Nico Daws in close.
Kreider gave New York the lead for good with a deflection in front. New York was playing a man up, and Panarin had the primary assist.
Braun scored on a slapper from the left point in the third period. Daws finished with 14 saves.
New Jersey announced during the first intermission that leading goal scorer Jack Hughes is out for the rest of the season due to a left knee injury. Hughes was hurt Sunday in the second period when he was checked along the boards in his own zone by Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom.
“There’s the good and the bad,” Ruff said. “It’s bad we are losing him. But the good news is the injury is … it could have been a lot worse.”
Jaromir Jagr set the Rangers record of 54 goals in 2005-06. Adam Graves had 52 in 1993-94, and Vic Hadfield had 50 in 1971-72. Mike Gartner is fourth with 49 in 1990-91 and Pierre Larouche rounds out the top five with 48 in 1983-84. Messier had 47 in 1995-96.
NOTES: Along with Hughes, Nathan Bastian also missed the game with a lower-body injury incurred against the Islanders. … The goal was Strome’s first since March 22 in New Jersey. … The Devils outshot New York 6-1 in the second period. … The Rangers won three of the four games in the season series. … The Rangers have won three straight road games and six of their last seven.
Rangers: Host the Penguins on Thursday night. New York leads Pittsburgh by four points for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Devils: Finish a four-game homestand against Montreal.
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