Rangers vs. Leafs: Birthday Boy Georgiev Dazzles With 55 Saves Against Toronto

Alexandar Georgiev stole the show on Sunday making *55 saves vs. a high-powered Toronto Maple Leafs offense which entered the evening as the fourth best in the NHL with 194 goals. The asterisk here is because there were some issues with how shots were recorded on Sunday but make no mistake; Georgiev had a heck of a game and deserves all the credit in the world for his birthday brilliance.

The Leafs went 0-4 on the power play vs. the Rangers, and that is where 23 of their shots came from. The remaining 32 — 31 of which were stopped by Georgiev — came at even strength. At times during the game Toronto set up a shooting gallery and worked the puck around with precision, but Georgiev hunkered down and did whatever was needed whether it be a blocker deflection, a play behind the net or your standard run of the mill save. He did it all, and then some.

The lone goal Georgiev surrendered was an unassisted tally by Kasperi Kapanen. Tony DeAngelo had the puck and the point and was trying to pass it across to Marc Staal, and Kapanen intercepted it and scored easily on a breakaway.

The goal tied things up and erased the lead earned when Mika Zibanejad scored just :28 into the game. It was a bit of a broken play, but the hard work of Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello kept the puck moving in the zone and allowed him to step in and fire it on goal.

Jimmy Vesey scored the game-winning goal later on in the period after receiving a great pass from Kreider who had exited the box after serving a penalty. Ryan Strome gained the blue line skating up the ice and dropped it off for Kreider. Vesey was then able to delay his shot and it enabled him to fire it past Garrett Sparks.

The period ended with a score of 2-1 with the Leafs owning a shot advantage of 22 to 14.

The middle frame of the game featured no scoring, and once again the Leafs out shot the Blueshirts, this time 17-9. Most of the final period was frenetic, as the Leafs were once again generating chances as the Rangers held onto a 2-1 lead. The Blueshirts were playing on their heels, but newcomer Jake Muzzin made a costly turnover that ended up on the stick of Adam McQuaid. McQuaid stepped in and shot the puck almost immediately and was able to use Auston Matthews as a screen.

The goal gave the Rangers the insurance they needed, and gave them some breathing room. This didn’t stop Toronto from continuing their onslaught, and the Leafs eventually pulled Sparks to try and make it a one-goal game.

After a series of icings resulting in faceoffs in the Rangers’ zone, Kevin Hayes was finally able to put away the game for good with an empty-net goal. The tally was his 13th of the season, and his 38th point of the year. Hayes took 23 shifts and logged 21:03 vs. Toronto, and made some nice moves on the penalty kill. On one shift he was playing a game of keep away in order to kill the time left on the clock, although there was one instance where it looked like he was going to lose possession as he skated toward goal.

Zibanejad picked up his 23rd goal and 54th point of the season, Kreider picked up his 18th assist and 42nd point and Mats Zuccarello picked up assists 22 and 23 to bring his season point total up to 32 in 41 games played. He certainly has improved his trade value over the last few weeks, and had a strong performance in what could have been his final home game as a Ranger this season.

Georgiev’s performance brings his stat line to 8-9-0 with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. He made a number of memorable saves on the evening, and two of the better ones came on John Tavares.

The Rangers are on the road for the next four games, and will return to action on Tuesday in Winnipeg vs. the Jets at 8:00 ET. They will then travel to Buffalo for a game on 2/15, to Pittsburgh for a game on 2/17 and to Carolina for a game on 2/19 before returning home to face the Minnesota Wild at Madison Square Garden on 2/21.