J.T. Miller, Paul Carey, New York Rangers
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers finally won a game in their final game of the West Coast trip thanks to J.T. Miller’s big night.

  • New York Rangers 6 (25-20-5, 55 points)
  • San Jose Sharks 5 (26-15-7, 59 points)
  • NYR Goals: Kevin Hayes (11), Jesper Fast (8), Ryan McDonagh (1, 2), Brady Skjei (3), J.T. Miller (11)
  • SJS Goals: Barclay Goodrow (4), Logan Couture (19, 20), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (8), Tomas Hertl (14)
  • NHL. Final. Box Score.
  • SAP Center, San Jose, California.

The New York Rangers were looking to salvage the final game of a four-game road trip. The opponent was a tough one in the San Jose Sharks who entered the night 14-6-3 at home.

It was a back and forth game, but the Rangers would come out with the 6-5 victory despite a strong comeback from the Sharks.

Kevin Hayes was making his return from injury and it was a big one as the team most certainly missed his defensive presence on the ice. Hayes returned to center Mats Zuccarello and J.T. Miller as the team’s second line. For Miller, this was a huge game after his benching Tuesday against Anaheim.

Miller would prove that he does belong in a top-six role and his performance Tuesday was just a bad game. His three points effort played a pivotal role in the Rangers getting the victory. It wasn’t just his offense though, his overall game was much improved that he saw ice-time in the final minutes.

Ondrej Pavelec was in goal in this one as the team decided to give Henrik Lundqvist some rest with the All-Star break upcoming. Pavelec played the remainder of the Rangers 5-3 loss against the Ducks after relieving Lundqvist in the first period.

Right out of the gate the Sharks got a chance to test Pavelec. Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over in the offensive zone that led to an odd-man rush the other way. Luckily for the Rangers, the puck hit the crossbar.

The Rangers did not practice Wednesday so there seemed to be some rust. They eventually got their legs under them and got on the board first on a beautiful shot from Kevin Hayes.

That lead did not last long however as the Rangers continued to be a mess defensively. Brendan Smith decided to make a bad line change leaving Barclay Goodrow wide open in front of Pavelec to tie the game at one.

It continued to go downhill from there for the Rangers. They did not get a call that they wanted and this time Smith was caught complaining which led to San Jose taking a 2-1 lead.

Jesper Fast had been struggling lately. He along with the rest of the team haven’t been playing their best hockey, but for Fast that appears to be changing.

2:36 into the second period Logan Couture would give San Jose the lead once again. Things started looking bleak and you couldn’t help but wonder if this team could turn it around again.

Pavelec had to continue to be sharp though as the Rangers still had a chance to come back. He was and this save was one to remember keeping the game to within one.

Ryan McDonagh has been struggling to score goals all season. He’s been adding assists but hasn’t been able to put the puck in the back of the net. That all changed in the second period as the captain scored twice to give the Rangers a rare lead going into the third period.

Even with McDonagh’s two goals it still felt like the Sharks had a comeback in them. But Brady Skjei thought otherwise and got a lucky bounce as he crashed the net shorthanded to extend the Blueshirts lead to 5-3.

With San Jose being a dangerous team this one was far from over and they let the Blueshirts know that early in the third.

But the Rangers didn’t let down and Miller would cap off a big night with the game-winning goal when the Rangers needed it most.

San Jose would make it interesting yet again by scoring in the final minutes but the Rangers would hold on to snap their three-game losing streak.

The Rangers and the rest of the league now look to enjoy some time off as the All-Star Break is upon us. The Blueshirts next game will be on Feb. 1 at Madison Square Garden against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.