For all the Rangers had done up to this point, good or bad, how they performed in Tuesday’s contest would say a lot about the resilience of this year’s group.
So after the Rangers rallied past the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes, 5-3, snapping their eleven-game winning streak and 17-game point streak, you couldn’t blame Mika Zibanejad for blowing kisses to the crowd or Vincent Trocheck wanting extra high fives in the locker room after downing his former team. New York had earned it and is now 10-2-1 in their past 13 games.
It was the first time the two teams had met since the Rangers were victorious in seven games in their second-round playoff meeting last season. Momentum swung back and forth for much of the contest before the Blueshirts wrestled it away in the third.
Here are my takeaways on the win :
SPEEDING THINGS UP:
What makes Carolina so good is their speed, extreme forecheck pressure, and the fact they shoot from anywhere. That was evident in the early going as the Hurricanes dictated play on both ends of the ice, at one point holding the Rangers without a shot on goal for nine consecutive minutes. The scoreboard reflected the notion as the Canes struck first when Brett Burnes poked one past a sliding Igor Shesterkin, who was returning to his post after Jacob Trouba accidentally knocked his right pad out of the crease.
The Rangers struggled with breakout attempts through the evening and had 18 giveaways. However, once they realized their patented east-west plays wouldn’t work at this juncture, they switched to a north-south approach, matching power against power. It paid off, as the Blueshirts limited Carolina to 23 shots on goal, below their 34.9 per game average. Meanwhile, the Rangers’ offense generated 35 shots on the net.
Another big reason for the Canes’ success is their ability to garner quick responses after conceding goals, and their clash at the Garden was not an exception.
Just 16 seconds after Trouba tied the score with a rifle on the power play at 16:26 of the first period, Martin Necas blasted a shot by Shesterkin to give Carolina the 2-1 lead.
Then, late in a robust second period which saw the teams take a combined five penalties, only for all to be killed off to that point, the Rangers went on the man advantage for a third time. It led to Zibanejad socking his fourth goal in three games by sliding a shot through the legs of Pyotr Kochetkov, one that looked as if he intended to throw the puck at the net for a deflection.
However, 29 seconds later, Jalen Chatfield fluttered a shot from the point that was redirected in by Filip Chytil, dampening the crowds’ celebration of Mika’s heroics, as the Canes took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission, where an angry Igor addressed his fellow mates in the locker room.
“Igor gave the message after the second period,” Gerard Gallant said. “It was frustrating to give them those two goals. Both times we tied it, they scored within the next shift.”
Heeding their MVP’s words, the Rangers returned fire 36 seconds into the third period, when Artemi Panarin took a pass off the boards from Ryan Lindgren, skated away from the left boards to the top of the key, and fired the disc home to knot the game for a third time. After successfully defending the Canes for a minute straight, the Blueshirts had an attack of their own, where K’Andre Miller claimed ultimate redemption.
RISING TO THE OCCASION:
While Miller and Trouba weren’t entirely to blame for the three Carolina goals, they were on the ice for all of them. But with the game anew in the third, both made the most of the opportunity. First, Trouba had a thunderous hit on Andrei Svechnikov, and with 10:27 left, Miller came to the rescue.
The 22-year-old skated deep into the offensive zone and found Kaapo Kakko behind the Canes’ net. From there, Kakko stickhandled and eventually found Zibanejad up near the blue line, with Miller cutting back through the shooting lane to get his stick on the blast to tip the puck in for a 4-3 Rangers lead.
Then for good measure, Chytil, who was demoted from the third to the fourth line in the third period for Barclay Goodrow, took advantage of an egregious call by the referees, boxing Jordan Martinook for touching the puck with a broken stick, hitting the empty net on the power play with 63 seconds left to ice it.
MARV’S 3 STARS:
Kakko had an assist on the Miller goal and has three points in his last two games, playing with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. “Kakko has been outstanding,” Gallant said. “He’s been one of our best players the last three games.”
2. K’Andre Miller:
Miller has three goals and 10 points over the last 13 games, has 17 shots on goal, has blocked 19 attempts, and has delivered 33 hits in that timespan.
1. Mika Zibanejad:
Zibanejad extended his point streak against the Canes to eight, leading the team with 19 goals on the season and 18 points in his last 15 games. What I love most about his recent play is that he continues to be defensively responsible as the two-way center that he is. His fine play on Tuesday accumulated a team-high 2.41 game score.
I could’ve done a separate article on this but since this one is currently unpublished, I’ll put them here. The Rangers announced on Wednesday they’ve signed Jimmy Vesey to a team-friendly two-year $800,000 extension that will last him through the 2024-25 season. Vesey was unsure of his NHL future back in September as he was on a professional tryout contract with the team, yet found a way to break camp and hasn’t looked back since.
The reunion is now complete after the organization and player initially parted ways when he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2021 third-rounder (Jaylen Grubbe). From there, Vesey had short stints with the Maple Leafs, Canucks, and Devils before his broadway return.
Through 38 games this year, the 29-year-old has scored six goals and compiled 12 points, while also reinventing himself as a useful penalty-killer. But more importantly, Vesey is stress-free this Summer. “The last few summers have been stressful for me, just not having a contract and waiting around, and then coming to camp on PTO”, he said in his post-practice presser. “It’s nice to have a little bit of stability.”