What happened on March 17 in the history of the New York Rangers
Fans of the New York Rangers were pinching themselves last year on this date. The reason? The Blueshirts exploded offensively, beating the hated Flyers 9-0. It was the largest margin of victory for the Rangers since a 9-0 shutout of the Devils in 1986.
Mika Zibanejad was the offensive star with six points in the second period when the Rangers exploded for seven goals. He had a natural hat trick, scoring shorthanded, on the power play and at even strength and added three assists to become only the second player in NHL history with a six assist period. Bryan Trottier did it against the Rangers in 1978.
The other goal scorers were Pavel Buchnevich with two along with Filip Chytil, Brendan Lemieux, Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba. 12 Rangers made the scoresheet led by Zibanejad and Buchnevich with four.
It was a bizarre game. Alexandar Georgiev had a 26 save shutout in his first game after being pulled in his two prior starts and losing his starting job to Keith Kinkaid. He got the shutout after allowing seven goals on 20 shots with a 9.98 goals against average and .650 save percentage in two starts.
Not only that, but the game was coached by Hartford Wolf Pack Head Coach Kris Knoblauch who had rushed to New York to replace David Quinn who had been sidelined by COVID.
The nine goals were the most scored by any NHL team up to that point in the season and the most for the Blueshirts since scoring 10 goals against Tampa in 1998. Zibanejad was the first Ranger with six points in a game since Mark Messier did it in 1992 and it was one off Steve Vickers’ franchise record of seven.
Another crazy statistic? In the first 27 games of the season, Mika Zibanejad had scored three goals on 76 shots. This was the 28th game of the season and he equaled his season total of three goals on only four shots .
He would go on a tear starting with this game, scoring 21 goals in the last 29 games of the season.
Ruotsalainen’s St. Patrick’s Day hat trick
On this date in 1982 the New York Rangers celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a hat trick by defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen. It came in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden.
Ruotsalainen joined a select group of New York Rangers defensemen to register a hat trick, following Brad Park, Carol Vadnais, Ron Greschner and Dave Maloney. It was a natural hat trick as he scored three straight goals.
The highlight was after he scored his third goal and the fans at the Garden rained the ice with all kinds of green St. Patrick’s Day headgear. In an unforgettable moment, seated on the bench, Ruotsalainen’s hulking defense partner, Barry Beck, took a green plastic top hat and plopped it on his tiny teammate’s head atop his helmet. Ruotsalainen was a rookie fresh from Finland and the barrage of green had to be confusing.
With the goals, Ruotsalainen set records for points and goals by a rookie defenseman that stood until Brian Leetch came along.
30 NHL players born on St Patrick’s Day along with three former New York Rangers and one Ranger hopeful.
Center Justin Richards was born on this date in 1998 in Orlando, Florida. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Richards is currently playing for the Hartford Wolf Pack. He was named best defensive forward in the NCHC his last two years in college.
Tony Leswick was born on this date in 1923 in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. The forward played 12 years in the NHL, the first six with the Rangers. He was a Second Team All-Star in 1949-50 for the Blueshirts when he scored 19 goals. He was traded to the Red Wings in 1951.
Joe Levandoski was a right winger born on March 17, 1921 in Cobalt, Ontario. He played only eight games for the Rangers in 1946-47, but went on to play over ten years in the minor leagues after his brief stint in the NHL.
Craig Duncanson was born on this date in 1967 in Sudbury, Ontario. The left winger was a first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 1985 and played 28 games over five season with the Kings. The Rangers signed him as a free agent in September 1992 and he played three games for the team that season. He could never stick in the NHL and played three season with the Rangers top farm team in Binghamton.
St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t been kind to the Rangers (except for last season) with a sub .500 record.
Regulation wins: 14
Regulation losses: 19
Overtime losses: 3
Shootout wins: 1
Shootout losses: 1
Points percentage: .447