Steps in the right direction continue to be taken by the New York Rangers who took advantage of a slumping Toronto Maple Leafs team by beating them 5-3 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Although much of the narrative before the game centered around New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, it was two other netminders that stepped into the limelight.
Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves for the Blueshirts while Michael Hutchinson was lit up five times, with the Maple Leafs announcing a trade for LA Kings goalie Jack Campbell and gritty forward Kyle Clifford in the wake of the game.
And the Rangers also put their firepower to good use as they piled on the Leafs who are in a fight for their lives to make the postseason.
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It was Toronto who drew first blood, though, as John Tavares picked up on a rebound before firing a wrister past Shesterkin.
It was all New York from that point on, however, and it was a tied game midway through the first period thanks to Filip Chytil who got to the backdoor to redirect a Tony DeAngelo feed past Hutchinson.
And two goals six seconds apart really put the Rangers firmly in the driving seat with Toronto left stunned at the end of the first period.
Mika Zibanejad reacted quickest to Chris Kreider winning a faceoff in the offensive zone by proceeding to fire a laser beyond Hutchinson, while Kreider did what he does best by combining speed and size to get to the front of the net and inflict another blow on the Maple Leafs by putting the puck in the net on his backhand.
Auston Matthews, who is in a fierce race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, recorded his 38th goal of the year with a backhander from the slot, while he would also beat Shesterkin on the power play after Pavel Buchnevich had fired a wrister past Hutchinson.
But an impressive win for the Blueshirts was iced in the final minute of the third period to Greg McKegg who potted an empty-netter.
It was a huge win for the New York Rangers who refuse to give up on the postseason, and we had some takeaways…