For 20 minutes Sunday afternoon, it seemed like the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers really were engaging in a game of old-fashioned, last-goal-wins, shinny hockey.
Big difference aside, of course, was this particular game was unfolding in front of 50,150 fans clad in hockey jerseys, at a famous baseball park.
Devils score. Rangers reply. Devils score again. And again. Rangers make it a one-goal game.
And just to add even more atmosphere to the event, the teams skated out to start the second period under an ever-so-slight snowfall as the thermometer read minus-four Fahrenheit.
For the Devils, though, that’s where this romantic tale of grassroots hockey, on an outdoor rink, under the sprinkling of flurries, becomes, well, chilling.
The Rangers exploded for four unanswered second-period goals — New York scored six straight goals in total — to run away with a 7-3 decision over the Devils in the second “Stadium Series” games in as many days. Saturday night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the Anaheim Ducks blanked the Kings 3-0.
On Sunday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Mats Zuccarello scored twice for the Rangers. Marc Staal, Derek Stepan — on a penalty shot — Rick Nash, Dominic Moore and Carl Hagelin added singles.
For the Devils, it was Patrik Elias with a pair and Travis Zajac with one.
Ryane Clowe did the spadework on the game’s opening goal by Elias, taking a hit along the boards but doing a good job to protect the puck and get a pass off to Elias, who gave Jersey a 1-0 lead only five minutes in.
For Clowe and Ryder, native Newfoundlanders and linemates with Adam Henrique on the Devils, it would turn out to be the only thing to write home about for them.
“We tried, but we just could not get anything going,” Clowe said. “I don’t know what happened. It wasn’t from a lack of effort, but the scoreboard tells the tale.”
Ryder, from Bonavista, finished the night minus-three, while Clowe, from Fermeuse, was minus-two. Henrique was also minus-three in a forgettable night for the trio.
The loss was the first for Ryder in three outdoor games in his lengthy NHL career (Sunday’s game was No. 730). He was on the winning side when the Montreal Canadiens beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in the 2003 Heritage Classic, and also won again in 2010 when the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers in that year’s Winter Classic game.
“We got the quick lead, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Ryder. “In the second period, they got some lucky bounces and we couldn’t manage to find ourselves after that.”
Still, though, Ryder enjoyed the lively atmosphere at Yankee Stadium.
“It was pretty neat,” he said. “These games are always fun, but you want to be on the other side winning them.
“It was a little chilly out there, but we had fun with it. Overall, it was a great experience, but I’m not sure how many outdoor games New Jersey is going to have after this one today.”
The win snapped a modest two-game win streak for the Devils, while the Rangers managed to shake their two-game losing skid.
“I’d like to blame it on the snow,” New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer said of the second-period collapse. “That would give me a reason why.
“We did come out ready to play. I thought we had a really good first period, and I think we fell into a little bit of a trap because it was five goals scored in the first.
“We started to open it up a little bit in the second looking for another three goals, but that’s not our game. And they made us pay.”
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur allowed six goals on 21 shots. Cory Schneider played the third period and faced five shots, allowing one goal.
In the other end, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 of 22 shots.