The New York Rangers rebounded in a big way this evening as they dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins, and picked up a 5-1 win at Madison Square Garden. Up and down the lineup, the Rangers were the better team all night long and swarmed the Penguins in the offensive zone. The Rangers’ constant pressure on offense essentially eliminated the Penguins counter attack, and aside from a power play tally, the Rangers kept the Penguins at bay. Igor Shesterkin had a relatively light workload throughout the night, but he certainly kept the crowd entertained with a few dimes through the middle of the ice.
Alexis Lafrenière (14) - Filip Chytil (11) & Barclay Goodrow (12) - 2:07
After the debacle on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers knew they needed to be better, and they certainly were. They were flying right from the opening puck drop, and just over two minutes into the game, the Rangers took an early 1-0 lead on the scoreboard. Filip Chytil led a quick transition play into the offensive zone, and found Alexis Lafrenière with a step on his defender. Lafrenière was able to collect the loose puck, fought off the backcheck and slipped the puck under Tristian Jarry.
Chris Kreider (43) - Mika Zibanejad (40) - 3:58
Under two minutes later, it would be the Rangers striking for the second time as they caught Pittsburgh napping on a quick transition. Pittsburgh had four players caught deep after a rush attempt, and Mika Zibanejad made them pay with an immediate outlet to Chris Kreider. Kreider played it smart by flying the zone early, and was wide open by the time Zibanejad gained possession of the puck. Kreider had plenty of time and space to make a move, and snapped a shot past Jarry on the blocker side to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Frank Vatrano (12) - Mika Zibanejad (41) & Chris Kreider (17) - 4:16
The Rangers had no interest in stopping at just two, and 18 seconds after Kreider’s tally, Frank Vatrano gave New York a pretty commanding 3-0 lead. The first line went to work once again after winning the faceoff, and they dominated the Penguins down below the goal line. Zibanejad was able to fool both defenders with his eyes, and that left Frank Vatrano wide open in front of the net. Vatrano didn’t waste much time when the puck hit his tape, and fired home his first “official” goal as a Ranger.
Chris Kreider (44) - Mika Zibanejad (42) SHG - 6:37
Despite the Rangers being shorthanded early in the second period, their offensive pressure didn’t back down. Chris Kreider was able to force a turnover just inside the Rangers’ blue line, and he chipped a puck into open space for Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad was able to win the foot race, pull up as he skated through the circle, and hit Chris Kreider back across the ice. Kreider stepped into a heavy one-timer from his left knee, and buried the puck past Tristan Jarry on the glove hand.
Jeff Carter (15) - Kasperi Kapanen (19) & Danton Heinen (12) PPG - 6:00
Early on in the third period, the Rangers were tasked with more penalty killing duties as Patrik Nemeth was sent off for “roughing” Sidney Crosby. New York’s penalty killing had been excellent all night long, but their one blip on the radar came at the six minute mark of the third period. Kasperi Kapanen’s turnaround wrister found its way through traffic, and ended up in the back of the net after a deflection from Jeff Carter. Igor Shesterkin never saw the shot with the screen in front, and the Penguins pulled back within three goals.
Andrew Copp (14) - Artemiy Panarin (58) & Ryan Strome (30) - 17:47
With under three minutes remaining in regulation time, the Rangers kept their foot on the gas pedal and adding one final marker. Ryan Strome started the play with a quick rim around the boards to Artemiy Panarin. Panarin was able to draw two defenders to him and sent a ridiculous no-look pass back out in front of the net. Andrew Copp was ready and waiting in the open lane, and one-timed home his first goal as a Ranger to make it a 5-1 game.
After the debacle in New Jersey earlier in the week, the Rangers certainly made a statement with tonight’s win. The offensive pressure was constant, and the Rangers thoroughly manhandled a potential first round playoff opponent in front of their home crowd. Following tonight’s impressive win, the Rangers will remain in New York tomorrow before returning to action on Sunday evening against the Buffalo Sabres.