It took a minute to get going, but the Rangers brought the fire that they ended their last game in St. Louis with. They showed they can hang with their divisional and state rival New York Islanders, and they move within five points of a playoff spot. Artemi Panarin had his second five point game of his career, after fellow teammate Tony D. had a five point game last week, and the Rangers have won three of their last four games.
The first period started about as ugly as possible with a first minute Islander goal, but Rangers woke up and turned out an entertaining 1-1 tie. I’m a sucker for hockey fights, and I’ll give Haley and Smith credit for switching the momentum that some may consider imaginary when they both dropped the gloves back to back. Did Haley look like he was trying to break Ross Johnston’s hand with his helmet? Yes. Did Brendan Smith get himself tossed for not knowing the ridiculous technicalities that come with being an NHL tough guy? Also yes, but the Rangers looked great the rest of the period, and I can’t deny that.
This is the latest the Rangers have ever played the Islanders for the first time in a normal season, and that may be for the best, as they’re starting to figure more and more stuff out as a team the deeper this season goes. They looked like trash in St. Louis, and the first minute tonight, but that didn’t last. Jesper Fast’s goal was pure hustle, just like the rest of his game, as a seemingly harmless rebound from a Skjei-to-Panarin shot from the top of the circle became a goal, with Fast throwing his body and stick at the puck, and creating a shot that no other human would ever be able to recreate exactly. It was a work of art, and it made up for the ugly turnover in his own zone that led to the Isles’ goal.
Kakko-Chytil-Howden looked solid together in this period. They built up some momentum on the first power play with a little help from Buchnevich, and they continued it for the rest of the period. They had the two best scoring chances that didn’t go in. Kakko took the puck out of the air in the 17th minute, while posted up in-front of the net, flung a sharp backhander, and almost broke up the tie. Howden kept the play alive, but couldn’t find the net either. Love to see it, as Chytil will be the glue that sticks these three together, as long as Quinn doesn’t break them up.
Rangers had ten more shots than the Dennis Potvin Supporters (17/7). More periods like this would lead to a run for a wild card spot. The problem is, they need to win the periods, and not just get a tie when they play their best. Kreider showed his speed is still elite in 12th minute, Greg McKegg got everyone’s hopes up like he likes to do with no pay-off, and Adam Fox continues to be the most consistent defenseman on the Rangers.
Rangers won this period 2-0 to take a 3-1 lead into the third, but this period was a harder fought battle from both teams. Georgiev had to flash the glove a bunch, especially in the second half of the period. Rangers were out-shot 16-8 in the second period, as the Islanders begun to mount their attempt at a comeback falling down a couple of goals.
Varlamov seemed to be the guy changing the game at the beginning of the period, stopping everything from a sweet backhand chance by Ryan Lindgren of all people, to shutting Tony DeAngelo down moments later. Luckily, a Panarin shot from the point was deflected by Kreider in the 6th minute of the period, and the Islander goalie started to show some holes.
Chytil and Kreider were keeping the offense pumping for awhile with some chances, but a Jesper Fast hit in the offensive zone, not far from where he was smashed in the first minute of the game to lose the puck, opened up another scoring chance that led to an Adam Fox goal on low percentage shot. Fox put the Rangers up 3-1, ended his 19 game goal-less streak, and gave Atremi Panarin his third point of the game. Sam Rosen says it’s his fourth straight home game with three points, which is insane. The guy is worth his big ol’ contract, that much I can tell you.
This could easily be a 3-3 game if former Ranger Derrick Brassard wasn’t whiffing and getting stoned every time he came near Alexander Georgiev’s net.
The third period was largely a beat down. Panarin scored his first goal of the game, and the Islanders basically crumbled into dust. He and Trouba added a couple more goals, as the Fishsticks continued to spectate Ranger hockey. Birthday boy Marc Staal got a tripping penalty that led to a quick goal, but other than that, the blue and orange guys hardly showed up.
Brock Nelson and Johnston tried some stuff with Zibanejad, Kreider, and Tony DeAngelo, but we’ll see what comes of that when these teams meet again in three days, as both teams stew on this one.
Well, there was Kakko not shooting from a prime scoring area again, but let’s just ignore that for now.
Rangers 3 Stars of the Game
* Artemi Panarin (2 g, 3 assists, 1 HIGH KICK)
** Jesper Fast (1g, 2 assists, a bunch of key plays in every zone)
*** Chris Kreider (1 goal, 6(?) scoring chances, and drew a penalty that led to Trouba’s goal. Stuck up for Z-Bad)