Any issues with the New York Rangers not being ready to play in the first period were not evident in this game. They came out flying led by the trio of Artemi Panarin, Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome and Copp scored three goals in the first period en route to an easy 6-3 win.
The Rangers remained tied for first place with the Hurricanes who also won, coming from behind against Winnipeg. It was a night of outstanding individual efforts as the team won its fourth in a row and seventh in the last eight. The one definite is that the Rangers clinched second place with the win so they definitely have home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Rangers shutout streak ended at just over 200 minutes and they dropped out of first place in team defense, but considering the game and the competition, they have to be satisfied with the win.
Gerard Gallant was pleased with the overall effort. “We got off to a great start obviously..I thought we played real well. Disappointed the shutout streak broke, but it was gonna happen sooner or later. Overall the guys played real well, played a real good solid game. It’s two big points.”
Gallant also took note of Panarin, noting “He’s a helluva a player. He doesn’t play the same way as everyone else, but that’s what makes him special.” Panarin had said that he had changed his style of play and is getting results.
Gallant spoke about Panarin’s unique ability. “He doesn’t play a perfect D-zone coverage, he doesn’t backcheck as hard as some guys. Cause he’s reading plays…that’s what he does and that’s hwy he gets 100 points a year. He makes those special plays.”
He was especially pleased by how Panarin battled in this game. “I thought tonight they went after him a little bit and he just bounced off them and kept making his plays. Over the last four games, he comes back, he does a good job in the D. He’s -zone, not trying to turn over pucks, he’s getting low and he’s trying to make his plays. For the most part he’s done that. ”
One note of concern was that Andrew Copp went to the locker room with just over five minutes left in the game. He was favoring his left foot when he left the ice, but there was no clear play that would have cause an injury. He had been battling on the boards for the puck and might have twisted an ankle or been slashed by Casey Cizikas.
The team announced he had a lower body injury, but no one asked Gallant about it (not that he would have had an answer).
Gallant made a good point, talking about the fact that the Rangers have been able to play well against the good teams and the teams playing out the string. They’ve kept their focus and have, if anything, actually improved over the last few weeks.
As much as the team would like to finish in first place, staying healthy is a bigger priority for the playoffs. This was their 25th road win of the season, one fewer than the 26 wins at home. This team can win anywhere.