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Rangers vs. Maple Leafs: Rangers Take the Leafs Out to the Compost Bin

New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

In an original six contest tonight, the New York Rangers took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in their third and final matchup this season. The Rangers started off the night with a nice gesture as the team came out for warmups wearing Teddy Balkind’s name and the no. 5 on the back of their jerseys to honor the young high school hockey player who tragically passed away in a game earlier this month.

As the game began, New York struggled out of the gate in tonight’s matchup as Toronto quickly began flexing their high powered offense and transitional game. The scoring chances and shots on net began swinging heavily in Toronto’s favor and the team promptly went up 2-0 as the night began to look ugly.

The Blueshirts slowly gained their ground back and Ryan Reaves was able to put New York on the board with his first goal of the season. The one goal deficit didn’t last very long as Toronto scored again to take a 3-1 lead into the second period.

In the middle period the Rangers began to seriously fight back as they put pucks on net. Reaves was able to pot his second of the season early in the period which seemed to put the wind back in the Rangers’ sails. As the clock ticked down NHL All-Star Adam Fox was able to tie the game at three going into the third period.

While the night started off rough, and Igor uncharacteristically allowed two early goals, the young czar became an impenetrable wall stopping countless odd man rushes and even breakaways. Directly below you’ll see Igor make stopping Nylander look like a walk in the park.

As Toronto put an incredible eighteen shots on net in the third period alone, the team was pressing hard. However through all of this the Rangers found the back of the net twice to take a 5-3 lead into the last five minutes of the game. With several minutes left the Maple Leafs pulled their goalie and every Rangers fan began to clench their teeth as Auston Matthews, who was carrying a four game goal streak into tonight, scored. The play was quickly reviewed as Matthews deflected the puck into the net with his skate. The Toronto War Room decided this time there was a distinct kicking motion and called back the goal. Shortly after this Adam Fox sealed the deal with an empty net goal as the Rangers, who never gave up, came back for a 6-3 victory.

1st Period

Ilya Mikheyev (6) - Pierre Engvall (9) - 2:44

Ilya Mikheyev stays hot as he scores his sixth goal in eight games since returning from an injury he sustained before the season began. The young forward dumped the puck into the Rangers’ zone and the Maple Leafs forecheck began. Mikheyev pressured Nemeth behind the net who couldn’t quite get to the puck and forced Lindgren to try to move it up the boards quickly. Engvall joined his linemate in the forecheck and got in front of Lindgren’s clear attempt and followed the puck into the slot. Engvall then turned around and put an awkward backhand on net that Shesterkin couldn’t handle and Mikheyev was there to put the rebound past him as Lindgren failed to tie him up.

Mitch Marner (8) - William Nylander (21) & John Tavares (21) PPG - 3:30

This was the first powerplay goal in 101 games for Marner and also Nylander’s 300th NHL point. Directly after Kreider went to the box for tripping, the Maple Leafs won the faceoff in the Rangers’ zone. They moved the puck well as Tavares drew Miller behind the net and got off a pass to Nylander in front as he was falling down. Nylander pivoted with the puck and drew Trouba, Rooney, and Goodrow to him and dished the puck over to Marner who was all alone on the side of the net. Marner was able to place the puck in the very top corner, roofing it over Shesterkin who almost got there in time to make the save.

Ryan Reaves (1) - Greg McKegg (3) & Adam Fox (35) - 12:52

This was an early birthday present for Ryan Reaves who turns 35 tomorrow. The Rangers’ fourth line was arguably the team’s most effective line in tonight’s game and this may have been the shift that set the tone. Rooney and McKegg were both forechecking hard and caused Toronto to turn over the puck. McKegg played the puck to Fox who passed it right back to him and he wasted no time in making a no look backhand pass to Reaves who was all alone in the slot. Reaves handled the puck briefly and shot the puck over Campbell’s blocker. The crowd at MSG got particularly loud for this one

Michael Bunting (9) - Auston Matthews (16) & Mitch Marner (17) - 17:50

The Rangers failed to enter the Leafs’ zone and Liljegren started the rush back up the ice getting the puck to Matthews. He dished it off to Marner and side stepped Zibanejad and was given the puck right back as he entered the Rangers’ zone. Matthews cut towards the net and got off a backhand that rebounded hard off of Shesterkin’s pad. The puck caromed into Bunting and right into the net as both he and Trouba fought for position. This was Bunting’s second goal and third point against the Rangers this season.

2nd Period

Ryan Reaves (2) - K’Andre Miller (5) & Jacob Trouba (11) - 2:58

The Rangers’ fourth line was at again sustaining pressure in the offensive zone. The puck came out to the point and Trouba quickly dished it over to Miller who took a shot but just missed the net. The puck bounced out in front to Reaves whose first shot attempt was thwarted by Sandin, but he was able to get his stick on the puck for a second attempt and chipped it up high off of Campbell and into the back of the net. This is Reaves’ second two goal game of his career with the first one happening way back in 2013 when he played for the St. Louis Blues.

Adam Fox (6) - Ryan Strome (21) & Artemiy Panarin (29) - 17:49

Liljegren was being pressured by Strome and made a bad pass that was intercepted by Chytil at the blue line. Chytil quickly dished it off to Panarin who brought the puck over to the left side boards before finding Strome in the corner. Fox recognizing his chance pinched in and crashed the net to receive a perfectly placed pass from Strome and beat Campbell through his five-hole. Fox’s dominant season continues but oddly enough this would only be his second three point game of the season.

3rd Period

Ryan Strome (9) - Ryan Lindgren (9) & Artemiy Panarin (30) - 10:50

Tonight was all about an excess of Ryan for the New York Rangers. Artemiy Panarin brought the puck into the Maple Leafs’ zone stickhandling and taking his time looking for the pass. He moved the puck to Lindgren who quickly threw the puck at the net. Nylander got in the way and deflected the shot ironically setting up the perfect back door pass to Ryan Strome, who this time was able to put the puck into a wide open net.

Chris Kreider (25) - Jacob Trouba (12) & Mika Zibanejad (22) - 15:33

With a little less than five minutes to go in the game, the Rangers were up by one and it was imperative the team get an insurance goal. While Toronto dominated at the faceoff circle most of the night, Zibanejad was able to win a draw in the offensive zone cleanly back to Trouba. Trouba wasted no time getting the puck on net, which resulted in a fortunate rebound right to Kreider’s stick. He was all alone in front and seemed to almost take his time putting the puck in the net over a sprawling Campbell. Kreider’s phenomenal offensive season continues as he scored his twenty-fifth of the season in his fortieth game. This would put the Rangers’ veteran forward on pace for an astounding fifty goals this season.

Adam Fox (7) - Mika Zibanejad (23) EN - 17:36

With Toronto’s fourth goal getting called back due to Matthews’ distinct kicking motion the Rangers had caught a break. Shortly after this, Zibanejad once again won a faceoff cleanly back to Fox who sent the puck all the way down the ice into the empty net sealing the deal for the New York Rangers. This is Fox’s forty-second point in his fortieth game this season. We have not seen as successful of a campaign from a defenseman since the prime of Brian Leetch.