Antti Raanta has done it again.
The New York Rangers, backed by Antti Raanta’s second consecutive shutout, defeated the Devils by a final score of 5-0 this evening. Raanta, who was surprisingly named the starter for this game, pitched his second consecutive shutout and turned away all 19 shots that he faced. Suddenly, the Rangers have an interesting situation on their hands, as Raanta will most likely start Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks after turning in another solid effort.
The question will now be how Alain Vigneault handles this goalie situation, because it’s becoming quite obvious that the Rangers have played more complete games in front of Raanta. Maybe it’s the allure of Lundqvist being in the net, and trusting him to make the difficult saves? Either way, this is on AV to figure out moving forward.
After grinding out two close games against the Jets and Blackhawks, the Rangers offense finally came alive once again. They were able to make easy work of the Devils in the offensive zone, and torched Corey Schneider with their high quality chances. The Rangers were also lethal on special teams tonight as they picked up a pair of power play goals, and even added another shorthanded goal for good measure.
Chris Kreider started the scoring barrage for the Rangers at the 16:44 mark of the first period, after snapping home a beautiful centering feed from Mats Zuccarello. Then in the second period, it was J.T. Miller picking up the shorthanded goal, followed by Brady Skjei’s first career goal with three seconds remaining in the period.
For Skjei, this was a long time coming after coming up empty handed in his first 30 games of the season. He had plenty of assists to his name, but just couldn’t find a way to break through for his first career goal. Now that it is out of the way, we’ll see if that finally gets him going in the goal department.
The Rangers closed out the game with a pair of power play goals coming from Brandon Pirri, and Jimmy Vesey, which completed the rout of the Devils. Speaking of Pirri, he was another one who desperately needed a goal to rejuvenate his confidence. There have been times over the last several games where he has passed up opportunities to shoot simply because the bounces weren’t going his way.
He, like Skjei, finally got on the board tonight, which will hopefully get him going again. This was yet another big time win for the Rangers, as they continue to pickup points despite missing three key forwards in Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, and Rick Nash. Nash should make his return sometime next week, but before that, the Rangers will have two big tests coming up against the Blackhawks yet again, followed by the Dallas Stars.