Following a miserable defensive effort on Monday against the Dallas Stars, the New York Rangers turned things around tonight as they welcomed the Toronto Maple Leafs into town. Despite giving up three goals, the Rangers were miles better than they were against Dallas, and they were able to close out the game in regulation. Igor Shesterkin, who picked up his fourth win in five games, turned away 27 of the 30 shots he faced and improved his record to 4-1-0 on the season.
John Tavares (20) - William Nylander (24) & Justin Holl (14) - 7:36 1st Period
The Rangers had the early edge in this game, but it was the Toronto Maple Leafs who were able to break through with the first goal of the game. John Tavares was able to jump on a fortunate rebound that landed right on his stick, and he shoveled a shot past Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers had good coverage, but the puck bounced to a soft spot and Toronto was able to capitalize.
Filip Chytil (12) - Tony DeAngelo (29) & Marc Staal (5) - 8:50 1st Period
A little over a minute after Toronto’s opening tally, the Rangers stormed right back down the other end of the ice and tied the game. Tony DeAngelo deserves all of the praise on this goal as he transitioned down from his point spot, and rifled a crisp pass to the far side of the net. Filip Chytil was camped out with body position on his defender, and tapped home the beautiful pass from DeAngelo to make it a 1-1 game.
Mika Zibanejad (21) - Chris Kreider (18) - 17:18 1st Period
The KZB line started to reignite their chemistry near the end of the first period, and they never looked back for the remainder of the game. Chris Kreider wound up taking the offensive zone draw, and won the puck straight back to Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad was able to walk onto the puck, and stepped into a heavy wrist shot that surprised Michael Hutchinson. The shot soared right past Hutchinson’s right shoulder and gave the Rangers their first lead of the night.
Chris Kreider (19) - Pavel Buchnevich (19) & Mika Zibanejad (24) - 17;24 1st Period
Just six seconds after the go-ahead goal, it was Zibanejad’s turn to return the favor with a faceoff win of his own. Pavel Buchnevich collected the loose puck after the draw, and flipped a perfect lead pass to Chris Kreider barreling into the zone. Kreider flew down the ice, plowed right through Justin Holl driving to the net, and buried his 19th goal of the season.
Auston Matthews (38) - Andreas Johnsson (13) & Kasperi Kapanen (20) - 16:56 2nd Period
Toronto finally regained some composure late in the second period, and were able to claw back within a goal at the 16:56 mark. Andreas Johnsson made a great spin-o-rama pass from out behind the Rangers’ net, and put the puck right on Auston Matthew’s tape. Igor Shesterkin never picked up the pass until late, and Matthews was able to beat the young goaltender with a backhand in the high slot.
Pavel Buchnevich (11) - Brady Skjei (15) - 17:30 2nd Period
It didn’t take long for the Rangers to respond to the late-period adversity as Pavel Buchnevich almost immediately restored the two-goal lead. Just prior to the goal, Chris Kreider spun Michael Hutchinson around after circling the net, and the goaltender wound up dropping his stick. Auston Matthews made an ill-advised turnover after kicking the puck into the middle of the ice, and Pavel Buchnevich was able to beat the goalie clean. Hutchinson was still in the process of collecting his stick as the shot came in on net, and he was never able to get fully set in his crease.
Auston Matthews (39) PPG - John Tavares (24) & Mitchell Marner (40) - 16:32 3rd Period
Auston Matthews was a threat every single he stepped on the ice, and he picked up his second goal of the game late in the third period. A undisciplined hooking penalty on Greg McKegg sent the Maple Leafs to the power play, and it didn’t take that highly skilled unit to capitalize. John Tavares threaded a perfect seam pass over to Auston Matthews on the far side, and he wired home his 40th goal of the season to make it a 3-2 game.
Greg McKegg (2) ENG - Pavel Buchnevich (20) - 19:02 3rd Period
The Rangers did and excellent job of clamping down defensively after giving up the previous goal, and they eventually iced the game with under a minute remaining. After gifting Toronto the power play on the last goal against, Greg McKegg redeemed himself by adding the empty net goal to seal the win for the Rangers.
Overall, the Rangers were much better defensively tonight, and it was even more impressive that it came against a highly talented team. Igor Shesterkin just continues to pick up wins, and the KZB worked their magic in the offensive zone. Following tonight’s win, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before returning to action on Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres.