It was as if they had opened Astroland Park early as the New York Rangers took their fans on a ride on the Cyclone. It was roller coaster ride of a game as the Rangers blew a two goal lead late in the second period, allowing three St. Louis Blues goals in just over two minutes. The never-say-die Blueshirts charged back in the third period and posted their 18th come-from-behind win of the season. The final score was 5-3 and it was a wild one.
Coach Gerard Gallant was honest about the second period collapse saying the team “fell asleep” for two and half minutes. He said that the team was disappointed and frustrated. “They (the Blues) were the better team, don’t get me wrong. We were in control of the game and they get on one, you can live with that, that happens, give up three goals, that’s pretty discouraging.”
This was a night that Igor Shesterkin was a mere mortal. He stopped 29 of 32 shots and made a number of outstanding saves, but he would probably want another crack at the last two goals that he allowed. For once, the Rangers bailed out their star netminder, the opposite of what has happened so many times this season. Gallant was quick to point out that Shesterkin made some tremendous saves, especially at the end of the first period.
The Rangers escaped the first period with the lead, because Alexis Lafrenière got to the front of the net to put in the rebound of an Adam Fox point shot.
They escaped as the Blues dominated possession and shot attempts 21-11. The Rangers blocked 11 shots in the first period alone. Even with the blocks, eight shots got through to Shesterkin.
The second period was more of the same, but again it was the Rangers who scored when Ryan Strome took a pass from Artemi Panarin and tucked it past the surprised Blues goalie Ville Husso. Panarin had taken a pass from Jacob Trouba at the point and Husso thought Panarin was going to shoot, but instead, he slipped the puck to Strome on the doorstep.
With just two and a half minutes left in the second period, the roof fell in. Ryan O’Reilly, Ivan Barbashev and David Perron all scored and all three goals came off excellent work in the offensive zone with the Rangers flatfooted, watching the play. It was a deflating way to end the period and there was a smattering of boos as the Rangers left the ice.
The Rangers never give up and this was another example. From the first shift in the third period, they dictated play and it finally paid off when there was some chaos in the Blues zone that resulted in Patrick Nemeth scoring from the blue line into an open net with Husso sprawled on the ice. Tied score.
Artemi Panarin spoke about the team’s resilience when they fall behind. “The team gets steeled to go out and get the two points that we need.”
The big break was when Colton Parayko shot the puck over the glass and the Rangers finally got a full power play. They had a 16 second man advantage in the first period. The first unit dominated, but was unable to get a puck past Husso. Gallant called a timeout to get the first unit some rest and sure enough, a Fox shot/pass from the blueline was tipped by Kreider for the game winner.
The goal came with 8:20 left and the Rangers spent the rest of the game fighting off St. Louis forays into their zone. The real challenge was a Blues power play when Lafrenière was called for slashing (really?). The penalty kill stood tall and when the Blues pulled Husso, Artemi Panarin was able to score into the open net.
How improbable was this win? Going into this game, the Blue were 22-2-2 when going into the third period with a lead while the Rangers were 3-12-1.
The win doesn’t make Chris Drury’s job any easier as he has to figure out how much he should do at the deadline to improve the team. After the second period, the Rangers were a team a year away from being a true Cup contender. After the game, the were a team that could very well make some hay in the playoffs.
Here’s a video recap of the game.
This could be the guttiest comeback in a year full of gutty comebacks.
As Gallant said, “When you got character on your team, good leadership, they find a way, they dug down between periods.”