New York Rangers beat Chicago Blackhawks behind Antti Raanta's stellar play (Highlights)
Dec 9, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) makes a save on the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Backup goaltenders in Antti Raanta and Scott Darling put on a show, but in the end, it was the New York Rangers edging the Chicago Blackhawks.

  • New York Rangers 1 (19-9-1, 39 pts)
  • Chicago Blackhawks 0 (17-8-4, 38 pts)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • United Center, Chicago, Illinois

Not until the 14-minute mark of the third period did we actual see the game’s first goal, courtesy of Marian Hossa. Finally, after 45-minutes and change of spectacular goaltending put on by a pair of backups, one of the skaters finally put one home.

Or, at least, we thought he did.

Score a big one for New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault as it was his challenge that reversed the Hossa goal due to an offside.

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Instead, the teams played on and the Rangers capitalized on overtime when Nick Holden tallied his fourth of the season off a beautiful feed from Derek Stepan just 55 seconds into overtime:

The story of this night, however, were the goaltenders, the backup goaltenders, to be more specific. New York’s was special. Antti Raanta, who received his second consecutive start solely based on a coach’s decision, stopped all 26 Blackhawk shots he faced throughout the evening. The win now improves his season mark to a nice and tidy 7-1 record.

How about that old-school double-stack save?

His counterpart, Scott Darling, was equally brilliant in coming up with 36 saves on 37 shots. Only that last goal did he and his team in on this particular night.

The defensive effort from the Blueshirts was extremely noteworthy. Granted, the Hawks were without Jonathan Toews, but outshooting them 37 to 26 is another noteworthy feat without Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich in the lineup. Jimmy Vesey made his return to the lineup after an injury scratch in Winnipeg. He was on the ice for a total of 12:02 on Friday night.

Now two points clear of the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Rangers will return home and welcome in the hated New Jersey Devils for a Sunday affair at Madison Square Garden.

 NEXT: Has past success led to eroded fan optimism? 

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