In the first hockey game ever to be played in Yankees Stadium, as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, it was the New York Rangers defeating their Hudson River Rivals the New Jersey Devils by a score of 7-3.
The Rangers scored six unanswered goals powered by a four goal second period en route to victory.
The electric crowd of 50,105 inside the ‘House that George Steinbrenner Built,’ was chomping at the bit for the game to get started. The start time was delayed nearly 45 minutes to an hour due to sun glare on the ice.
The Baseball Cathedral, home to the 27-time World Series Champion New York Yankees, was the perfect setting for these two Metropolitan Division to play a hockey game.
A day after the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks played in 60-degree weather at Dodger Stadium, the NHL returned to conditions more fitting for hockey. The temperature was 24.9 degrees, but it felt in the single digits with the wind chill at puck drop.
The game had everything these fans wanted except a fight. The Devils and Rangers have a bitter rivalry that dates back to their days in the old Patrick Division. There were goals (10 in total), great saves, penalties, and even a penalty shot. However, one team had to win and one team had to lose.
The Rangers fans went home happy and the Devils fans went home disappointed. While many Devils would have liked to see their team win, most of the fans enjoyed the experience of being at an outdoor hockey game.
Remember the outdoor game is a special event and most of the time it is about being there and taking in the experience instead of the game itself. This true for the fans and players, but the players have to remember it counts in the standings.
The Devils came out flying in the opening period and took it to the Rangers early. Patrik Elias got the Devils on the board early as he received a nice pass from Ryane Clowe and beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on a breakaway.
The Rangers would quickly tie the game on a goal by Moore before the Devils retook the lead when Elias scored his second of the game on the power play. The trio of Czechs teamed up for the Devils second goal as Marek Zidlicky passed the puck to Jaromir Jagr, who set up Elias for the goal.
Jagr would get his second assist of the night when he fed a pass to Travis Zajac to give the Devils a 3-1 lead. It looked the Devils would rout the Rangers in the battle for the Hudson River. The Devils could have gone up 4-1, but Clowe rang one off the post allowing the Rangers to stay alive.
With his two assists Jagr past formed Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux for 10th place in the NHL career assist list. Jagr had tied Lemieux on Friday against Washington with another two-assist performance.
The Rangers got back within one goal when Staal turned a faceoff win in the Devils zone into a score when his shot squeezed in between Brodeur’s pads with 3:01 remaining in the first period. It was Staal’s third of the season.
From that point on it was all Rangers. Mats Zuccarello scored two straight to put New York ahead for the first time. Carl Hagelin and Rick Nash put the Rangers ahead for good. The Rangers were able chase Devils legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur from the net, who angrily swatted the puck out of his net several times.
The Devils looked flat in the second period. There were constant defensive breakdowns leading to multiple odd-man rushes on Brodeur. While Brodeur cannot stop those 2-on-1 opportunities he did not make the important save when the Devils needed it the most.
With the Devils up 1-0 and 3-1, Brodeur did not make the saves he would normally make. He let in soft goals that deflated the Devils mental state.
Lundqvist, who sported stylish pinstriped pads for the occasion, stumbled through a difficult first but settled down and made 19 saves.
Brodeur was serenaded with chants of “Mar-ty … Mar-ty” as Rangers fans in the stands made their voices heard. He watched the rest of the game from the bench, as Cory Schneider replaced him to start the third. Brodeur allowed six goals on 21 shots.
Schneider gave up Derek Stepan’s penalty-shot goal in the third period. The seven goals matched the Rangers’ season high.
Notes: The ten goals tied an NHL record for most in an outdoor game, previously achieved by the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings during the 2009 Winter Classic. Schneider is 5-1-2 with a 0.96 goals-against average and .961 save percentage in his last eight starts, dating to Dec. 28. Mats Zuccarello (NY) & Patrik Elias (NJ) each scored twice, tying the individual record for most goals in a regular-season outdoor NHL game. Derek Stepan first player in outdoor