After falling to the New York Islanders on Thursday night, the New York Rangers rebounded this evening with a huge 2-1 regulation win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mika Zibanejad scored on the power play with 16 seconds remaining, and completed the 3-0 season sweep over the Lightning. Both Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy were phenomenal at either end of the ice, and added to the playoff-like atmosphere of this game.
Brayden Point (23) - Alex Killorn (30) & Victor Hedman (44) PPG - 16:41
Approaching the final minutes of the first period, the Lightning went to work on their first power play as Patrik Nemeth was sent off for interference. The Rangers did a great job of keeping a majority of the play to the outside, but Tampa was able to get a shot on goal courtesy of Victor Hedman. It appeared as if Igor Shesterkin made the save, and covered the puck, however there was no whistle on the play. Brayden Point kept with the play and was able to swat home the loose puck that was sitting between Shesterkin’s pads.
Jacob Trouba (10) - Dryden Hunt (11) & Alexis Lafrenière (7) - 9:25
Just prior to the halfway point of the second period, the Rangers finally got the bounce that they were searching for. Jacob Trouba started the play with a great layoff pass up to Alexis Lafrenière at the blue line, and immediately cycled down low. Lafrenière had plenty of time and space, and lofted a shot on goal that gave Andrei Vasilevskiy some trouble. The loose puck landed right in the crease as Trouba was crashing the net, and he slammed home the rebound. The goal tied up the game for the Rangers, and gave them some life after coming up empty on their previous chances.
Mika Zibanejad (25) - Artemiy Panarin (56) & Adam Fox (53) PPG - 19:44
By the time the third period rolled around, both teams had settled into their defensive games and there was very little room to move. However, with under two minutes remaining in the game, Erik Cernak clipped Chris Kreider up high, and gave the Rangers a chance. The power play went 0-for-5 on the previous man advantages, but this time, the Rangers capitalized. Artemiy Panarin created the entire play with a ridiculous cross-ice feed through traffic, which landed right on the tape of Mika Zibanejad.
Before the puck even hit his stick, Zibanejad was thinking shot all the way, and hammered a one-timer from his patented spot. Vasilevskiy was surprised by the quick rising shot, and was unable to handle the puck as it sailed over his shoulder. The goal gave the Rangers the lead with 16 seconds remaining on the clock.
This was probably the best game of the season for the Rangers, and they came away with the season sweep over the defending Stanley Cup champions. This win will certainly be a momentum builder for tomorrow night when the Rangers travel into Raleigh for a meeting with the division leading Carolina Hurricanes.