New York’s lead at the top of the NHL standings is safe for now. The Blueshirts are able to relax after almost giving the game back to the bottom team in the NHL standings. New York wants to win the Stanley Cup, and that means winning ugly sometimes. That was the case for the Blueshirts as the Rangers did not play at their best but had enough to beat the San Jose Sharks.
A good start from the Rangers was undermined when Kyle Burroughs was allowed to hit a stretch pass to the speedy Anthony Duclair behind the Rangers defense. As the former Ranger rushed in on Jonathan Quick, the three-time Stanley Cup champion could not bail the Blueshirts out of this one as Duclair went forehand, backhand and put the puck in the empty net, putting the Rangers behind again.
It would be the powerplay that dragged the Rangers back into even footing. On the man advantage, the Rangers started to play catch at the point. Adam Fox dropped it to Mika Zibanejad, who left it for Artemi Panarin. Panarin fired it at the net, and the screen from Chris Kreider was enough to stop MacKenzie Blackwood from seeing the puck, and the Rangers were back on equal terms.
Another former Ranger would bite the Blueshirts as Ryna Carpenter found a puck in the high slot and just fired a shot at the net that Jonathan Quick could not react to. It beat the elder netminder and made it a 2-1 deficit for the Blueshirts. New York was once again trailing in a game in which they had seen a lot more of the attacking time.
Panarin would get it back when MacKenzie Blackwood foiled a Vincent Trocheck wraparound, but the breadman was out in front to slap the puck back into the cage and make it a 2-2 game with a long while left in the first. The scoring in this game was not going to end quickly, with both teams having a leaky defensive performance early in this one.
Mika Zibanejad would give the Rangers their first lead of the night as a beautiful pass from Chris Kreider behind the net finds the blade of the Swedish forward out in front as he extends his point streak to seven games. Mika started the season cold, but the Rangers top line center has started to heat up as of late. It really does seem Philadelphia will never fail to fix Zibanejad. He then missed an open net, so I guess he’s not 100% yet.
A penalty kill did not go to plan a little later. Nick Bonino had a chance shorthanded, but it was stopped. Eventually, the Sharks would get a Jacob MacDonald slapshot from the point that hit the post. San Jose got a bounce as it hit the post, then hit the skate blade of Quick before trickling into the net and tying this game up at three.
Alexis Lafreniere would get a penalty shot as Adam Fox got the puck past Matt Benning and allowed the former first-overall pick to get in behind the Sharks defense. Lafreniere had a chance to restore the Rangers lead as he had a one-on-one with MacKenzie Blackwood, but the Sharks netminder was able to shut the door on the Quebecois winger.
Will Cuylle was able to restore the Ranger lead with less than four minutes left in the second. K’Andre Miller got the puck around to Jacob Trouba. Trouba chipped the puck ahead to Bonino, who tapped it through to Cuylle, and Cuylle got himself on the scoreboard. A goal that was needed for both the team and the player, Cuylle got his first point in nine games, and the Rangers got their lead back.
Panarin would complete his hat trick in the third after a few shifts of sustained career offensive zone pressure. Jonny Brodzinski would keep the puck in at the blue line and throw it on the net. Vincent Trocheck had a few jabs at the rebound until it came out to the Breadman. Panarin would not miss and completed his third hat-trick as a member of the New York Rangers.
K’Andre Miller would get into the action as Panarin jeeps the puck in at the blue line which allowed the Rangers to build the pressure. Eventually, it just proved too much, and Miller walked into one that Blackwood had no chance. It’s now 6-3, and the Rangers look like they’re going to get the two points they wanted easily and cruise home from a rocky start to this one.
Fabian Zetterlund would tap home a rebound, then the Rangers didn’t defend well. With the game in hand, the Rangers took a breath, and in this league, teams, even San Jose, will get their way back into this game. San Jose had momentum and now had a path into this game. New York had to figure out its defensive game before it was too late.
Quickly after, Alexander Barabanov was able to tap home a beautiful passing play in his first game back from injury, forcing Peter Laviolette to call his time out and collect his team. New York were now up against it in a game they led 6-3. San Jose was not going to go away; they were not going to quit, and the Rangers started to take it easy. That’s a bad sign from a team that wants to win the Cup.
In the final seconds of the game, the Rangers bent but did not break. They were able to hold off the late surge from San Jose and win their third in a row. It’s the fourth time this season the Rangers have won 3 games or more, and Artemi Panarin led it. Trying to throw the game at the end was not so fun, but it didn’t matter. No harm, no foul, I guess.