Raanta and the Rangers Shut Out Kings, 3-0

First of all, let’s just get this out of the way.

All of it. The Staples Center. The players’ names. And the turnovers. The many, many defensive zone turnovers.

Other than the turnovers, the first period was notable mostly for Michael Grabner missing the net from practically inside it. It’s hard to argue with 64 goals’ worth of chemistry, but tonight putting Grabner back on a line with JT Miller and Kevin Hayes paid off only in chances, not points. Ultimately, Grabner missed the net spectacularly in all three periods, from that first breakaway to a final empty net attempt.

The second period looked shaky for a few minutes, with the Rangers pinned in their own end after multiple failed attempts to clear the zone. But just as I was starting to wonder, Mats Zuccarello sent a pretty pass to Matt Brendan Smith at the point; Smith blasted it off the back boards, and the puck bounced back to Derek Stepan, who popped it in. 1-0 Rangers.

The third started with two great glove saves from Annti Raanta, who was pretty much perfect. Soon after, we got a power play goal from Ryan McDonagh — that makes 6 in last 8 games for the Rangers, a marked improvement. However, it also gave them the dreaded 2-0 lead. When the goal was immediately followed by a penalty, everyone lost their minds.

This time, the Kings ultimately failed to make the man advantages count. Still, Jeff Carter’s line pinned the Blueshirts more than once at even strength; some sweet saves from Raanta bailed them out when clear after clear simply didn’t cross the blue line. (Oh, and Dan Girardi was back, a fact I’m just too goddamn tired to deal with right now and will let you jackals fight about in the morning.)

Chris Kreider was penalized for interfering and then being essentially sat on by Jonathan Quick. Raanta robbed Drew Doughty with a left pad save, but a clearly surly Kreider was soon back in the box again. The Kings pulled Quick to add yet another man, but Raanta was having none of it. Ultimately, he made 30 saves and notched his 4th shutout — the first time the Rangers have shut out the Kings in LA since 1978.

Rick Nash’s empty netter ended it, 3-0. The Blueshirts are back on the ice tomorrow night against the Ducks, and (trumpet sounds) the King will be back in the net.