NEWARK, N.J. — There is a difference between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils early this season.
The Rangers are finding ways to win and the Devils aren’t.
Jimmy Vesey and Artemi Panarin scored two goals apiece as New York beat New Jersey 5-3 on Saturday night, extending its point streak to 11 games.
The Rangers (12-2-1) have won four straight and are 10-0-1 in their past 11 games for their longest point streak since a 13-game run in 2015. Their 12 wins through the first 15 games are their most in team history.
“I know that it’s not always 60 minutes of domination, but no game ever is,” new coach Peter Laviolette said. “I liked the way that we’ve come out and played and the way we attack teams at the start. I liked the fact that we’ve had to fight back in some third periods — we stayed with it. Guys are working hard to win.”
Panarin set a Rangers record by increasing his season-opening point streak to 15 games, the longest of his career. His first-period power-play goal broke the old mark he shared with Rod Gilbert, and his second goal midway through the third tied the game 3-all.
Vesey broke the tie with 2:49 to play when he backhanded the rebound of Tyler Pitlick’s shot into an open net. Blake Wheeler added an empty-net goal to seal it, and Vincent Trocheck had three assists in the first meeting between the Hudson River rivals since New Jersey eliminated New York in seven games in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
“I thought it was a high-octane, entertaining game and pretty even game, but we just made one more play than them in the end,” said Vesey, who got his second and third goals of the season playing on the fourth line.
Igor Shesterkin made 30 saves after missing four games with an undisclosed injury.
Jack Hughes returned to the New Jersey lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury. He scored once and set up a go-ahead goal by Erik Haula to put the Devils ahead 3-2 early in the third.
“I think this was a game good hockey teams win,” Hughes said. “We’re in a bit of a rough stretch right now. That’s a game good teams win. That is something we are going to have to get back to doing. We’ve done it before. We just have to sharpen up, our top guys all the way to the bottom have to sharpen up.”
Ondrej Palat also scored for New Jersey, and Vitek Vanecek made 30 saves.
Panarin tied it 3-all with a quick shot from the right circle off a faceoff. Vesey got the game-winner after Shesterkin stopped Jesper Bratt in close.
Panarin has 10 multi-point games this season and he became the first Rangers player with five in a row since Jaromir Jagr 17 years ago. His 15-game point streak is the longest for New York since Wayne Gretzky in 1996-97.
“It’s been pretty ridiculous,” Vesey said. “I think I was impressed with him last year, first time playing with him. But this year he has kind of found a new gear and, I mean, for the franchise to be around this long and him to break a record like that, I think it’s pretty special.”
The Rangers twice took one-goal leads in the first period only to see the Devils tie it. Panarin, who had a career-high nine shots on goal, scored on the power play only to see Hughes answer less than a minute later with a shot from the side boards that Shesterkin muffed.
Vesey scored on a rebound at 14:11 but Palat tied it at 2 with a power-play goal late in the period.
Vanecek and Shesterkin were outstanding the second period. Shesterkin stopped Hughes in close on a backhand and made a glove save on a drive by Dougie Hamilton in handling 13 shots in the period. Vanecek turned away all 11 shots he faced, with the best coming against Panarin and Trocheck, who has a five-game point streak.
Rangers: Continue a four-game trip Monday at Dallas.
Devils: Play at Detroit on Tuesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl