(New York) After losing the first two games at home, New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff brought in rookie goaltender Akira Schmid for the crucial Game 3. That move paid off and his team is back in the series.
Dougie Hamilton scored at 11:36 in overtime and the Devils beat the New York Rangers 2-1 on Saturday night to cut their deficit to 2-1.
Jack Hughes also scored and Jesper Bratt had two assists for New Jersey, which lost the first two games at home by scores of 5-1. Schmid, replacing Vitek Vanecek, made 35 saves.
“We’ve been beaten twice in a row…we feel better tonight,” Hughes said. “It’s huge for our confidence tonight. We’re back and we’re excited. Now we are really motivated to play the next game. »
The Devils brought in the 22-year-old Schmid after Vanecek allowed nine goals on 52 shots in the first two games. Schmid became the first rookie goaltender to start a playoff game for the Devils since Martin Brodeur in 1994.
Schmid made 11 saves in the first period, 10 in the second, 6 in the third and 8 in overtime to earn his first playoff start.
“We know how he is, he’s like stone cold, always relaxed and balanced,” Hughes said of the young keeper. “We have great confidence in Schmid when he arrives. I think he showed everyone how good he is and we would like him to continue that. »
Chris Kreider scored for New York. Igor Shesterkin stopped 26 shots.
The Rangers have committed 19 turnovers after committing nine in the first two games of the series.
“It’s normal to lose the puck, but today we sometimes made the wrong decision,” said Mika Zibanejad. “That’s what they want. … They’re good, they put pressure everywhere and try to force those turnovers so they can give the ball to their fast forwards and go on the counterattack. »
In overtime, Bratt found Hamilton on the right side, and the defender skated into the right circle and beat Shesterkin to the glove side.
“I started with a good breakaway, a good turnaround, and tried to get into the fray and obviously Bratt found me on a great play,” Hamilton said. “I think there were a few bodies out front so I was just trying to be patient when I got the puck I saw a little place to shoot and luckily I did. »
Game 4 is at Madison Square Garden on Monday night and Game 5 is at New Jersey on Thursday.