Henrik Lundqvist, photo courtesy of NHL.com
After a tough shootout loss at home to the Atlantic-leading Canadiens, the Rangers appropriately bounced back with a shootout win of their own, downing the Leafs by a score of 2-1. Henrik Lundqvist continued his excellent play with 32 saves, JT Miller banged in the tying goal from the top of the crease in the 3rd period, Rick Nash was a physical, offensive force throughout and Zucc and Zibanejad both converted their shootout chances to seal the win.
First Period Scoring-
- 10:56 TORONTO GOAL Connor Brown; Assists: Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner
Second Period Scoring-
Third Period Scoring-
- 10:50 NEW YORK GOAL J.T. Miller; Assists: Kevin Hayes, Brandon Pirri
- TORONTO William Nylander: X
- NEW YORK Mats Zuccarello: √
- TORONTO Auston Matthews: √
- NEW YORK Mika Zibanejad: √
- TORONTO Nazem Kadri: X
- Henrik Lundqvist, NYR: 32 Saves, W
- Frederick Andersen, TOR: 37 Saves, L
- Mika Zibanejad, NYR: game-winning shootout goal
- As the NHL continues its crusade to increase scoring, the two goaltenders of record showed that shallower goals or skinny jean-esque pants won’t outweigh skill. Both goalies were simply brilliant tonight. To his credit, Frederick Anderson matched Hank save for save, but the King proved to be that much better. Lundqvist stood on his head tonight, his outing tarnished only by the failure of Kevin Hayes to pick up a man net front, which led to Connor Brown’s goal and an absolute laser in the shootout by Calder hopeful, Auston Matthews. He also kept the game alive with not one, but two amazing saves on both breakaway attempts by the Leafs in OT.
- I was pretty pleased with the Rangers’ effort tonight in the face-off dot and in getting pucks to the net. They finished with a face-off win percentage of 67% and registered 38 shots. The Rangers probably should have won this game in regulation, but Michael Grabner missed a wide open net to conclude yet another shorthanded scoring chance in the first period. JT Miller was able to tie the score in the third with a greasy goal as a powerplay chance ended, so kudos to the boys for grinding away, staying patient and putting pucks on net against a hot goalie.
- Brandon Pirri was brought back into the lineup at the expense of Pavel Buchnevich to aid the team’s struggling powerplay. Officially, the Blueshirts did not register a powerplay goal, but Pirri did pick up an assist as JT Miller banged home his rebounded shot as a man advantage expired. Pirri also did not hold back in shooting the puck tonight. I personally don’t like him as a player and don’t see the logic in giving a guy 4th line and PP minutes, but he came in and did what the coaching staff wanted. It wasn’t a total success, but a step in the right direction for the special teams.
- Interesting juxtaposition of rookies tonight. Auston Matthews showed his class with a quick release that made Hank look like a rookie himself in the shootout. That goal is yet another example of his ability to change games in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, two of the Rangers’ marquee rookies had little to no effect on the game, as Jimmy Vesey saw his ice time disappear when AV shortened the bench and Buchnevich was scratched to bring Pirri back into the fold.
- Everybody kills the Rangers’ defense, but I once again saw some positives tonight. Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei used their feet to make plays. It was also nice to see the seldom-used Adam Clendening come in and give the team 15+ spotless minutes, as Kevin Klein was scratched with an upper body injury. At the end of the day, its hard to argue that this isn’t a deep unit capable of stout play.