For the first time in what feels like forever, the Rangers dressed a full complement of skaters as they took on the Montreal Canadiens. Or at least what’s left of them after a slew of injuries. Even so, those grisly remains managed to take the Rangers to the shootout.
It was a homecoming game for Alexis Lafrenière, and Gerard Gallant started him (and the rest of the Kids) on the opening face-off. It was a really nice gesture! Unfortunately, they gave up a goal 45 seconds later. Kaiden Guhle beat Igor Shesterkin far-side off a nifty set-up by the new acquired Denis Gurianov. The road to hell and all that.
Confirmé, Guhle est de retour!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 10, 2023
Confirmed: he's back!#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/11gFPAhoBG
But a few minutes later, Guhle broke Jimmy Vesey’s stick with a slash, and Alexis Lafrenière scored on a Kreider-esque deflection. It’s like poetry. It rhymes.
Homecoming king strikes back. pic.twitter.com/mJEMGEwTUB— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 10, 2023
The goal was Lafrenière’s 14th of the season, his fourth goal in his last five games, and a special goal to score in front of family and friends.
Late in the period, the Canadiens exploited the Rangers weak defense in transition to regain the lead. K’Andre Miller pinched at mid-ice and couldn’t knock down a pass from Guhle, leaving Alex Belzile with plenty of room to shoot:
Il en finit pu de scorer— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 10, 2023
Stay hot #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/pHgKowUM6i
The Rangers knotted it up at two in the first minute of the second. Jacob Trouba held the puck along the half-boards. Nick Suzuki pressured him momentarily before he kind of just…gave up? Trouba carried the puck toward center and tied the game with a heavy wrister. Patrick Kane was credited with the secondary assist, his first point as a Ranger.
THE CAP. pic.twitter.com/51uxkuJSlZ— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 10, 2023
Patrick Kane also deserves as assist on Montreal’s third goal. He committed and ugly, unforced turnover stickhandling along the half-boards, leading to a two-on-one that ended with a shorthanded goal for Josh Anderson.
Le powerhorse dans toute sa splendeur— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 10, 2023
No horsin' around on the P.K.#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/O5I66LGhEZ
However, Kane scored his first goal as a Ranger 1:11 later. Using Kreider as a screen, took a wrister from the left circle that beat Sam Montembeault. Trouba and Panarin provided the assists.
Kaner as a Ranger: Part I. pic.twitter.com/C8n58ABdyv— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 10, 2023
Both teams struggled to create offense in the third, though Shesterkin did stonewall Josh Anderson on a breakaway, achieving a modicum of revenge. Early in the period, Kreider awkwardly collided with Rafael Harvey-Pinard and came up favoring a leg. He missed a few shifts, he but returned midway through the period. His first shift back, he led a rush that nearly ended with a Zibanejad goal. But it didn’t, and no one else scored either.
And so began the overtime. The Canadiens controlled the puck for most of the five minutes. There was stretch where K’Andre Miller got stuck on ice for 2:15, which included an aborted attempt to change and a miscommunication with Shesterkin about covering the puck. Eventually he changed, but when Adam Fox replaced him, he took a holding call. The Canadiens had chance after chance, including a Mike Hoffman shot that found iron, but the Rangers escaped to the shootout.
Both teams failed to score on the first round of the shooutout. In the second, Shesterkin stuck with Nick Suzuki’s bag of many dekes—Suzuki had been five for five on the season. Mika Zibanejad scored on a silky-smooth backhand-forehand, and Shesterkin shut down Belzile on the final shot, clinching a 4-3 victory.
After this brief interlude we bring you— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 10, 2023
THE RETURN OF MIKA MARCH pic.twitter.com/TsysUfXPgw
. . .
This was a somewhat sloppy game by the Rangers, which is somewhat understandable given the new personnel and the gap between games. Though it didn’t manage a goal, the combination of Kreider-Zibanejad-Tarasenko continues to look like the Rangers best five-on-five line. Aside from Kane’s blunder, the new powerplay units both looked solid, and having two strong combinations can help manage ice-time and give unique looks with the man-advantage. Counterattacks and conceding rushes continue to be issues for the defense, and Montreal had far too many chances directly in front of the net. Still, the Rangers got the points and can move on, hopefully growing more cohesive with each game.
The Rangers will be off tomorrow before taking on the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at 5:00.