Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, courtesy of NHL.com
The Rangers extended their streak of overtime games to 3, needing a Mika Zibanejad goal in the extra period to topple the New Jersey Devils. The boys haven’t made it easy on themselves this week, but they continue to rack up the wins. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Blueshirts found themselves down 3-2 by the early third period. This was really a tale of two games, with the Rangers starting fast, suffering a defensive lapse that resulted in two quick Devil goals, but ultimately converting in OT to leave Newark with two points.
First Period Scoring-
- 6:40 NEW YORK GOAL Chris Kreider; Assists: Dan Girardi, Mats Zuccarello
- 17:32 NEW YORK GOAL Oscar Lindberg; Assists: Jesper Fast, Nick Holden
Second Period Scoring-
- 18:28 NEW JERSEY GOAL Adam Henrique; Assists: Beau Bennett, P.A. Parenteau
Third Period Scoring-
- 0:27 NEW JERSEY GOAL Kyle Palmieri; Assists: Travis Zajac, Taylor Hall
- 1:14 NEW JERSEY GOAL (PP) Kyle Palmieri; Assists: Andy Greene, Travis Zajac
- 15:35 NEW YORK GOAL Adam Clendening; Assists: Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad
- 1:16 NEW YORK GOAL Mika Zibanejad; Assist: Brady Skjei
- Mika Zibanejad, NYR: GWG, Assist
- Kyle Palmieri, NJD: 2 Goals
- Chris Kreider, NYR: Goal, Assist
- It was strong start from the Rangers. They came out strong away from home and quickly put two goals past a good goalie and a tough defensive team. Kreider’s goal is emblematic of what he’s tried to to all year: park his ass in front of goal for rebounds and deflections. As for the Lindberg goal, it was an excellent reward for a guy who’s had a tough year trying to regain his place in the lineup after offseason hip surgery. I know that I want to blow up the fourth line, but Lindberg’s chemistry with Jesper Fast is definitely undeniable, with Quickie finding him with a really slick pass for the easy goal.
- Antti Raanta is a stud. Best backup in the league, hands down. Part of what made the Rangers’ first period so good were his two point-blank saves on Travis Zajac and Taylor Hall, who both had great games in the losing effort. Without those two saves we are looking at a very different hockey game. He’ll probably want Palmieri’s first goal back but more than made up for it by denying the Devil of a potential hat-trick with a timely OT save that started the run of play which ended with Zibanejad’s game-winner at the other end.
- Earlier in the year, the Rangers were prone to giving up goals in bunches. The beginning of the third period was an ugly reminder of tough times for this defensive unit, as Kyle Palmieri scored twice in short order. As mentioned, the first goal was a must-save for Antti Raanta while the second goal was set up by a horrible penalty taken by Chris Kreider and Dan Girardi’s inability to keep the crease clear for Raanta. We’ve seen A LOT less of these types of mistakes from the Rangers lately, but these are still things that must be corrected. If a lesser team like the Devils can turn this 90-second sequence into 2 goals, I’d hate to see what the Capitals or Penguins could do with the same opportunity.
- After notching two points, including a goal that snapped a 16-game goalless drought, Mika Zibanejad said after the game that he’s been feeling more like himself lately. That’s huge news for the Blueshirts as they march toward the playoffs. The centerpiece of the Derick Brassard trade is a really good young player, but the broken leg that he suffered in late November has made it difficult for him to achieve consistency and continuity to his game. The last two victories have been sealed by two quick flicks of Mika’s wrist, so I look for him to raise his game to another level in the coming weeks.