Can the Blueshirts come up with a (much-needed) win in the midst of incessant drama?
The New York Rangers have had as rough a start to the season as possible. They lost two of their best forwards in Filip Chytil and Colin Blackwell for extensive periods of time.
On Monday, defenseman Tony DeAngelo was placed on waivers and would never play a game for the Rangers again after engaging in a scuffle with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.
That same day, Kaapo Kakko was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. To make matters worse, the Rangers came into Monday’s game with the Penguins having won just two of their first eight games.
The DeAngelo drama surely had an impact in the locker room and the Rangers had to make some lineup changes in order to replace their missing players.
Julien Gauthier would make his fourth appearance of the season. Forward Jonny Brodzinski and defenseman Anthony Bitetto would be making their Rangers debuts. Igor Shesterkin got the start in net.
Were the depleted Rangers able to take advantage of an injury-riddled Penguins defense?
1st period: Fight, Brett, fight!
The Rangers had an early chance on the power play, but weren’t able to score. They had some good looks in front of the net, especially by Mika Zibanejad, but his goal-scoring troubles continue.
About halfway through the period, Chad Ruhwedel took a shot that was high and wide and Shesterkin made the mistake of trying to make a play on it.
As a result, he was caught out of position and Jason Zucker was able to catch K’Andre Miller out of position, as well, to score a wrap-around. 1-0 Penguins.
Shesterkin made up for his blunder with a sequence of nice saves with just under eight minutes left. Unfortunately, Brodzinski was booked for hooking on the play. The Penguins have a terrible power play, but the Rangers looked solid on the penalty kill.
In the final three minutes of the period, Brandon Tanev was able to take the puck away from Brendan Smith, who went for a big hit to get it back, but ended up getting hurt. He was escorted to the locker room immediately and would not return.
With 1:11 left, Jacob Trouba was booked for slashing.
The Rangers looked great on this kill, as well and, after the buzzer, Brett Howden and Kasperi Kapanen got into a heated fight. Maybe this would light a fire under the Rangers, who looked dull and flat.
2nd period: Ok, Kevin Rooney
The period began with the Penguins on the power play for 40 more seconds. The Rangers were able to remain solid and not let them score.
Ryan Lindgren drew a penalty, but this was a bad power play for the Rangers, who had trouble staying out of the box themselves.
Bitetto was booked for interference 5:36 in. This was a great kill by the Rangers, and Pavel Buchnevich as well as Trouba stood out.
With 6:22 left, Miller was penalized for tripping. This was yet another great kill and Miller had an amazing breakaway chance out of the box, but somehow missed the net.
With just over two minutes left, an odd shot by Artemi Panarin was deflected and Kevin Rooney got to it in front of the net and was able to flick it in to tie the game for the Rangers.
With under a minute left, Lindgren was sent off for tripping Tanev.
On the penalty kill, with a few seconds left, Zibanejad blocked a shot and limped off the ice at intermission, which was cause for a bit of concern.
3rd period: That’s how you win a hockey game
To everyone’s relief, Zibanejad was ok to play the third. The Rangers were able to finish off the penalty kill that was interrupted at the intermission successfully.
Brendan Lemieux, whose line had been playing very well, drew a slashing penalty with over 16 minutes left. The Rangers had some great chances here but couldn’t convert.
With just over 12 minutes left, the KZB line had an excellent shift, one of the team’s best of the game.
Shortly after, the Penguins were penalized for delay of game. The Rangers were able to build on their moment to do some damage on this power play.
A shot by Adam Fox was deflected into the net by Chris Kreider, who does this better than anyone in the league. The Rangers deserved to take the lead, but had to make sure they wouldn’t lose it.
The Penguins had a great scoring chance that looked like it was going to be a goal, but the big Miller stepped up and made a huge block to help his team.
With 5:35 left, Gauthier was booked for a terrible holding penalty. This was yet another good kill by the Rangers, who were perfect, in that regard. Special teams really stepped up in this game and allowed them to go home victorious.
Of course, Panarin had to leave with a goal. With less than a second left, he scored an empty-netter to make the final score 3-1.
During such tough times, this victory was important and showed that the Rangers are fully capable of playing winning hockey. This was an important win for Shesterkin, who’s had a pretty terrible start to the season.
Key Moment: Does a fight count?
Howden’s extracurricular activities after the first period came to an end served as a turning point for the Rangers.
It ignited and motivated them and even though they looked a little discouraged to begin the second, they played much better hockey and were able to turn it around to get the win.
Clearly the Rangers agree: Howden was the recipient of the Broadway Hat.
Player of the game: Artemi Panarin
Panarin continues to show why he’s the Rangers’ best players and one of the best players in the NHL. Panarin was the best player on the ice, on both sides.
He recorded a goal and two assists, an iXG of 0.46, 0.4 xGF, 0.57 xGA, 0.94 GF, and 1.06 GA. He had an offensive score of 0.19 and an individual score of 2.25. All stats and numbers are courtesy of hockeystatcards.com.
The fact that he was involved in every goal the Rangers scored shows how important he is to this team.