Can the Rangers build a winning streak against the struggling Devils?
The New York Rangers have won four of their last six games and are getting key players back as they potentially get hot. They took on a struggling New Jersey Devils team on Thursday in a game they needed to win in order to keep a hot streak.
Igor Shesterkin made his second straight start in net and hoped to continue his great play as of late to lead his team to a win.
1st period: This was…bad.
This isn’t how you want to begin a game against a struggling team. The first period was really, really bad for the Rangers, who couldn’t get anything going offensively and were stuck in their own zone most of the time.
Shesterkin misplayed a puck off the boards that Rangers-killer Jack Hughes was able to rebound back into the net for goal number one, but he did come up with 13 saves to keep his team in the game.
Here’s to hoping David Quinn got through to his players during intermission because that could not happen again. Calling this a period to forget would be an understatement.
2nd period: Kreider to the rescue
The Rangers left the first period in their rear-view mirror. Who but Chris Kreider to turn this around for them? Kreider scored two huge goals this period to put the Rangers ahead. He now has nine goals in his last six games.
Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich, who have been fantastic for the Rangers, also deserve credit for their assists on Kreider’s first goal. These three guys have really stepped up in Artemi Panarin’s absence and are important factors in the team’s recent success.
The Rangers would enter the third with the task of holding their two-goal lead.
3rd period: Bittersweet win
The Rangers could not be stopped in the third. The Devils were unable to add to their goal and the Rangers scored four more goals to tie their season-high. Kreider scored another goal for his second hat-trick of the season.
Buchnevich and Alexis Lafrenière continue to show off their great chemistry. The rookie appears to have been unleashed. The Rangers were so dominant that the Devils had to make a goalie change.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, they’d end up having to make one too, but for a very different reason.
In the third, Shesterkin sustained a non-contact injury that looked pretty awful and had to be helped off the ice. It appeared as though he couldn’t put any weight on his right leg. He was relieved by Alexandar Georgiev.
This was a bittersweet victory for the Rangers and the hope is that Shesterkin will be ok, although his situation doesn’t look too good.
This was a big win for the Rangers, who’ll be facing the Devils again on Saturday, but a long-term injury to Shesterkin could be devastating. He’s been electric lately and a reason why the team has been playing so well.
They’re going to hope, for their sake and his, that his injury isn’t anywhere near as bad as it looked.
Key moment: The first of Kreider’s hatty
The key moment of the game was the Rangers’ first goal as well as the first of Kreider’s hat trick. He scored that goal and neither he nor his teammates looked back.
This goal epitomized Kreider’s elite play as of late and how he’s stepped up as a leader on this team in Panarin’s absence and throughout Mika Zibanejad’s offensive struggles.
Player of the game: Chris Kreider
This is as obvious as it gets. Talk about a player carrying his team on his back. Kreider is stepping up in the biggest way possible and its resulting in crucial wins.
A veteran, Kreider understands what it means to be a leader and how to set an example for his teammates and the younger players.
His numbers: 13:27 TOI, 3 goals, 0.61 iXG, 1 block, 0.68 xGF, 0.21 xGA, 2.13 GF, 0 GA, 0.5 defensive rating, 1.25 offensive rating, and 2.64 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.