The New Jersey Devils came into Madison Square Garden and did what they needed to do: win.
That win puts this back to a series now, with the Rangers leading two games to one. Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton was the overtime star, with both teams getting great chances in the extra session.
The lineup changes by head coach Lindy Ruff paid off, but does he keep these lines together for game four? Here are the three takeaways from game 3 in New York.
The New Jersey Devils have made this a series again with an overtime win.
Schmid was amazing in net
The decision to start 22-year-old goaltender Akira Schmid instead of veteran Vitek Vanecek was a bold one by Ruff, but it needed to be done. Vanecek was not playing well, and the team needed a pick-me-up. With the lineup changes, Ruff also changed his goaltender as well.
Schmid, in his first playoff game in the NHL, played outstanding and was a big reason why the Devils would win the game in overtime. The New York Rangers would put pressure on the young goaltender but he withstood the attack and kept the Rangers off the board.
Schmid looked confident and steady between the pipes, playing what may have been his best game in the NHL at the most crucial time. He was not fazed by the importance of game three, turning away shot after shot from one of the best lineups in hockey today.
He was smooth in his side-to-side movement, he did not allow many rebounds, and he kept the puck in front of him. It is not known who will start game four, but for my money, he should start the rest of the series after his performance last night.
He deserved the win and made it look easy at times. Schmid was the reason the New Jersey Devils won and this series is now a series.
The Devils need more aggression in the offensive zone
Too many times in last night’s game in New York, the New Jersey Devils played softly in the offensive zone. There was no body checking, no aggression in front of the net, no effort to keep the puck in, and no chance at rebounds.
They did win the game, but will that continue if they play this way in games four, five, etc.? The Devils need to put more pressure on Shesterkin and the Rangers defense as a whole if they want to eventually win this series. This is the way it should be at this time of year.
The Devils need to crash the net, keep the puck in, grab some rebounds, and get in Shesterkin’s face. More forechecking in the offensive zone will create turnovers that lead to offensive scoring chances.
The Devils need to start an aggressive line in game four to set the tone early. Not necessarily fighting, just hitting everything that moves. New Jersey is a hard team to play against. Now with a competitive series again, they need to turn that up a notch and make the Rangers change their style of play.
Rangers playing aggressive, yet clean, hockey
Contrary to what the Devils have done, the Rangers have played aggressively the entire series. Barclay Goodrow, Tyler Motte, Jimmy Vesey, Jacob Trouba, Niko Mikkola, and others have turned up the physical play and this is why they are ahead in the series.
The Rangers have the type of team that can score five goals a game, yet play the body the entire game as well. They are a good, well-rounded team that has excelled in every aspect so far.
The Rangers have got underneath the skin of Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, to name a couple, and the play of Hischier and Hughes has been off because of this style of play. The more aggressive the Rangers play, the more they take the New Jersey Devils off their game.
The Rangers are built for the playoffs and are showing why they should be considered contenders for the Stanley Cup.