Newark, N.J. — Down 2-0 heading into the second period, the Devils kept fighting. They came back with five unanswered goals in less than 11 minutes on their way to a 7-4 win over their cross town, the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Jack Hughes and Thomas Tatar each scored two goals to lead the way for the Devils.
Dawson Mercer scored the tiebreaking goal for the NJD with 7:20 remaining in the second period. Jack Hughes scored twice for the Devils.
Ryan Graves started the comeback 7:12 into the second and P.K. Subban slap shot tied it 78 seconds later by goalie Igor Shesterkin moments after New York defenseman Jacob Trouba coughed the puck up behind the net.
Shesterkin allowed five goals on 24 shots. Alexandar Georgiev replaced Shesterkin to begin the third and had five saves.
“That was a great win in front of our fans against a huge rival,” said Hughes, the first overall pick by the Devils in the 2019 draft who has 49 points this season. “We have great fans and so do they.”
Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt had two assists apiece for the Devils, who were outscored 36-14 in their previous eight meetings with the Rangers.
Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox scored in the opening 20 minutes for the Rangers, who were coming off back-to-back road sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes.
Ryan Strome and Graves blasted a long wrister from the left faceoff circle to open the scoring for New Jersey moments after Fox committed a defensive zone turnover. Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers.
After Bratt’s goal was overturned due to an offsides call with 6:05 remaining, Sharangovich scored on a wrist shot from the left side over Shesterkin with less than two minutes to go in the second to make it 5-2. The Devils capitalized on porous Rangers’ defense in the second half.
Strome made it 5-3 by redirecting a shot by Artemi Panarin 3:46 into the third but Hughes finished it off moments after Kreider missed on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush.
New Jersey rookie goalie Nico Daws made 31 saves.
“We just weren’t very mentally sharp,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”I don’t blame the goalie, as good as he’s been this season.”
Bratt became the first Devils skater with 60-plus points and 40 or more assists in a season since Taylor Hall in 2017-18. Bratt leads the team with 62 points.
Daws improved to 7-6-0 this season.
“He kept his composure,” Ruff said of the 21-year-old German-born goaltender, one of six goaltenders the Devils have used this season. ”He was pretty cool. That was a real important win.”
The Rangers, who fell to 40-19-5, had won five straight in Newark dating to Nov. 30, 2019. In those games, New York outscored New Jersey 24-7.
The young Devils are 23-35-5 this season. They have made the postseason only once since 2012, in 2018.
“We have to treat this like our playoffs to evaluate where we can be as an offensive group,” Ruff said. ”Tonight we stressed our transition game. Sometimes the puck doesn’t come to you. Tonight it came right to us.”
Rangers: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
Devils: Visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.