In Game 3 of the first round, the New Jersey Devils needed a spark. They fell down 0-2 in their series against the New York Rangers and were straight-up bad in those losses. In Game 3, things needed to change.
Chris Kreider is quickly becoming known as a New Jersey Devils playoff killer because of the way he has played in this series. He scored his fifth goal of the playoffs to give New York a 1-0 lead. He became the fastest skater in Rangers history to reach five playoff goals in a single postseason.
New Jersey needed a hero to get things tied. Jack Hughes, who has been the hero all season long, got the game tied with a power play goal. The 1-1 lock would stick for the rest of regulation.
In overtime, New Jersey needed a hero. Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula were the only players on the roster that had ever scored a playoff overtime goal before. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers had a bunch including Patrick Kane, who has five in his Hall of Fame career.
The New Jersey Devils needed a big-time hero in overtime of Game 3.
Well, the Devils got it done. They won their first game of the series thanks to an overtime winner by Dougie Hamilton. Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt each made a very nice play to find Hamilton, who didn’t miss his chance to beat Igor Shesterkin for the win.
Now, the Devils are still down 2-1 in the series, but they are in it now. Anything could happen from this moment forward. A ton of pressure shifted back to the Rangers. Another good game from New Jersey on Monday could get this game tied up.
However, the big story from the game in terms of individual performance was rookie goaltender Akira Schmid. It was his first-ever NHL playoff start, and he didn’t disappoint. After a mostly disappointing stretch for Vitek Vanecek to start the series, they needed Schmid to come up big.
He was the second star of the game as he made 35 saves on 36 shots to secure the victory. He has been huge for New Jersey this season, but nobody knew what to expect from him once the puck dropped in the playoffs. Well, he lived up to expectations and then some.
Even when the game went to overtime, he looked calm, cool, and collected, which is exactly what you need this time of year. This is how legendary runs begin for guys. Even if the Devils fall short in this series, they will come into 2023-24 very excited about his future.
He will surely get the start in game four after his amazing performance in game three. If they want to win this series, they might need more great performances from Schmid. This was a fantastic audition in a huge spot for the franchise.