Today was a date that has been marked on calenders since the regular season schedule was initially announced. All of the talk and whispers focused on John Tortorella’s return to The Garden as his main priority was a Vancouver Canucks victory. While Alain Vigneault, who coached Vancouver for the previous seven seasons was focused on getting his offense back on track.
In his press conference this morning, Vigneault hinted at the possibility of the lines being changed. “Just wait and see,” he said. When the teams hit the ice for warm ups it was discovered that he changed all four of his forward lines and made some other small changes in the aftermath of his team’s heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Bruins yesterday. The top line for this afternoon’s game featured Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash. Those three players responded by tallying four goals and eight points. Kreider notched his first career hat trick, Nash totaled a goal and two assists while Stepan had two assists.
The other goal was scored by defenseman Michael Del Zotto who in the previous two games had been a healthy scratch. After receiving a one-time pass from Mats Zuccarello, Del Zotto found himself with plenty of time and space and he rifled home a shot past Vancouver backup Eddie Lack.
Today also marked Cam Talbot‘s first appearance at Madison Square Garden, and he continued his recent string of hot play as he won his sixth-straight start and stopped 35 shots, preserving his team’s 5-2 victory.
After Kreider’s third goal, it was visually clear that Tortorella was not happy, as he did not really give the young kid a shot when he was the bench boss in New York. He now must know that he made the wrong decision, and Kreider made him pay for his mistakes.
The Rangers are once again one game above .500 and they will look to find some consistency when they welcome the Winnipeg Jets to MSG on Monday night.
New York will also be playing 11 of their next 12 games in The Garden, with that one game being on the road against the Buffalo Sabres.