The New York Rangers continued to roll this evening, and won their ninth straight game after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs by a final score of 4-3. Mats Zuccarello had another tremendous night at Madison Square Garden, and put up three points, including a late third period goal with 53 seconds remaining. At this point, this is quickly becoming Zuccarello's world, and we are all just apart of it.
After playing yesterday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers clearly had some tired legs early in this game, and took a while to get going. As a result, the Maple Leafs were able to take advantage of a late period turnover in the offensive zone, and came away with the game's first goal. Peter Holland was able to strip the puck from Viktor Stalberg behind the net, and made quick move back out to the front of the net.
Antti Raanta was unable to kick the pad out, and Holland slipped the puck between his legs to give the Leafs a late 1-0 lead. Despite a sloppy first period, the Rangers came out flying in the second period, and knotted this game at one just 44 seconds into the middle frame. Mats Zuccarello created the play with a beautifully placed pass over to Ryan McDonagh, and the captain slammed the puck into the empty net.
About 13 minutes later, the Rangers caught a bit of a break with Jonathan Bernier napping in the crease, and Derek Stepan beat him with a dump in from the red line. Instead of playing the puck with his glove, Bernier tried to kick the puck out, and whiffed completely after the puck took a sudden bounce. The puck just barely slipped between his legs, and trickled over the goal line to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately, the Rangers wound up giving the goal right back just a few moments later, and this game was tied heading into the second intermission. Both the Leafs and Rangers traded early goals in the third period, with Brassard getting the first goal, followed by a quick respond from Dion Phaneuf.
As the clock ticked under a minute, the Rangers caught yet another lucky bounce, and Jonathan Bernier gifted the Rangers another goal. Ryan McDonagh tossed a soft shot on net to generate a rebound, and sure enough, the puck bounced right out to Zuccarello in the high slot. After a slick move to the backhand, Zuccarello tapped the puck through Bernier's legs and gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead with 53 seconds remaining.
The Rangers and Raanta were able to hang on for the final 53 seconds, and earned their ninth straight victory. That win keeps the Rangers atop of the Metropolitan division, and gives them a seven point cushion over the Washington Capitals. Following the weekend sweep of Ottawa and Toronto, the Rangers will have three days off before meeting up with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.