The 2019-20 New York Rangers season has been filled with highlight-reel goals, great saves, and everything in between.
The New York Rangers were supposed to be home at Madison Square Garden last Monday night hosting the Calgary Flames. Instead, MSG Network aired “Mika Monday.” It consisted of games where Mika Zibanejad has some of his best games this season.
Now is a good time to expand upon that idea and look at five of the best games of the season. It’s not “Mika Monday” but Zibanejad’s fingerprints are all over this list.
5. Igor Shesterkin’s first NHL win
The future of the franchise, Igor Shesterkin, had been playing extremely well for the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack all season. He was playing at such a high level that it forced management’s hand into a three-goalie situation.
The recall was the best move the Blueshirts made with Shesterkin winning his first NHL game with a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at MSG. The 24-year-old made 29 saves in his NHL debut. As the pause in the schedule began, Shesty compiled a 10-2 record.
4. Rangers set a franchise record with 9 consecutive road wins
New York’s “us against the world” mentality on the road was huge this season. The Rangers posted a season-high and franchise-record nine consecutive road wins, beginning on Long Island on Jan. 16 and lasting until a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 28.
These road wins propelled the Blueshirts in the standings and formed a bond that brought them within one win of a wild card before games were halted.
3. Henrik Lundqvist records a 1-0 shutout win
This has not been Henrik Lundqvist’s finest season. Yet, in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, the King reminded fans of everything he has done in New York. His 33 saves stonewalled the Red Wings and boosted the Rangers to a 1-0 victory.
A power-play goal by Mika Zibanejad midway through the first period was all the offense Lundqvist needed. Against a team with nothing to lose, the King saved 11 third-period shots to seal the victory.
2. Artemi Panarin 5 points (3G 2A) in 6-2 win over Islanders.
A Rangers-Islander rivalry is like no other in professional sports. This particular game had a special meaning for the Islanders. They pursued Artemi Panarin hard in the offseason, but he opted to sign with the Blueshirts instead. His three goals and two assists lifted the Rangers to an easy win over the Isles.
1. Mika Zibanejad’s 5 goal game against Washington in 6-5 win
Only three Rangers have netted five goals in a game. Only one Ranger registered the fifth goal in overtime to win a game—Mika Zibanejad.
In a contest that saw the Rangers go head to head in an old fashioned NHL shootout, the Washington Capitals had no answer for Mika. Yet, in the final seconds of the third period, Alex Ovechkin tied the game to send the contest into overtime.
Zibanejad wasted little time blasting a one-timer pass off of a feed from Panarin to win the game and send the Garden faithful into a frenzy.
The Rangers had some great moments this year. At the time the league put a stop on the schedule due to COVID-19, the team was playing great hockey, just two points away from a wild card position.
When the league resumes, this team will look to create more memorable moments during this highly unusual season.