Recap: Mika Zibanejad Saves the Rangers in OT 

Recap: Mika Zibanejad Saves the Rangers in OT 
Feb 9, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Rangers center Jonny Brodzinski (22) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers were set to take on a last place, Connor Bedard-less Chicago team riding a three game win streak in which their number one goaltender would see his first start since the All-Star break. Surely this wouldn’t be a trap game, right?… Right?! This team certainly cut it close as they managed to blow a 3-1 lead in the third period to have to take care of business in overtime.

1st Period:

It only took two and a half minutes for a team to get on the board and unfortunately for Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers, it was the Blackhawks. Alex Vlasic let a shot go from the point that soared through some traffic, top shelf past Igor to make it 1-0 Chicago.

Certainly not an ideal start for the Rangers netminder who has gone three straight games without a start and has struggled significantly leading up to the All-Star break. While it’s understandably frustrating to watch him let in a goal on just the second shot of the night he saw, there really wasn’t much he could do on the play as Mackenzie Entwhistle stood right in his way, taking away his vision on the shot.

Thankfully, the Rangers didn’t let it get to them as they jumped right back on the attack and would find the back of the net just a few shifts later. A beautiful passing play that started and ended with Alexis Lafrenière sent the puck over to K’Andre Miller who moved it ahead to Artemiy Panarin. Panarin then skated confidently with the puck on his stick before chipping it ahead back to Miller who found Lafrenière perfectly for the one timer that went off the post and in to tie things back up 1-1.

The Rangers kept their foot on the gas and were quickly rewarded once again. After a pretty dominant shift in Chicago’s zone that left Boris Katchouck literally crawling off the ice after blocking a shot, Adam Fox used insane hockey IQ to re-enter the zone which led to a real pretty goal. With one defender in his way, Fox pulled off an incredibly patient move that set up for a perfect pass towards Chris Kreider on the other side of the net to make it a 2-1 game in New York’s favor.

The assist comes as Adam Fox’s 30th of the season which is a pretty noteworthy accomplishment for the Rangers star defender. He becomes the sixth player in franchise history and just the second defenseman to record thirty assists in each of his first five seasons with the team.

Not long after taking the lead, the Rangers were sent to the first power play of the night as Tyler Johnson got his stick tied up with Lafrenière which earned him a hooking penalty. The top power play unit again, had some decent looks but would continue to struggle as the two minutes came and went without the puck ending up in the back of the net. About a minute and a half after that first man advantage ended, a high stick from Seth Jones on Barclay Goodrow would send the Rangers power play unit right back to work. Another two minutes came and went as this team’s power play continues to be snake bitten.

With about three minutes to go in the opening period, Shesterkin came up with a point-blank save on Nick Foligno who unleashed an extra hack of the stick or two while the Rangers net minder was in the process of freezing the puck. This prompted some frustrations from Igor as he let a couple of right hooks go on the Blackhawks veteran forward which naturally gathered a bit of a crowd. Foligno would go off for slashing as Will Cuylle was forced to serve a roughing penalty for Igor as the team’s would skate four aside for the next two minutes.

With the first twenty in the books, the Rangers would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission as they played a pretty strong game despite going down early. There was no question that they were the better team, they just needed to stay the course and play their game. Shots were 12-7 after one with the Rangers leading in most stat categories aside from face-offs.

2nd Period:

Chicago was doing everything they could to get the Rangers power play going again. .Just a minute and a half in, Jaycob Megna clipped Kaapo Kakko with the leg which sent him off for tripping. Peter Laviolette opted to open their third power play attempt with the second unit which ended up staying out for practically the entire man advantage. It would be cut ten seconds short as the Rangers were caught with too-many men on the ice. As the Rangers penalty killers took the ice for the first time of the evening, they would kill off Chicago’s man advantage quite efficiently as the pace to the game slowed down quite a bit afterwards.

Right as we approached the midway point of the game, Kaapo Kakko entered the zone and let a hard wrist shot go from the left wing side. Petr Mrazek made the initial save but left the rebound right there for Will Cuylle. While Cuylle wouldn’t get enough on it to put it home, Jonny Brodzinski would pick up the loose trash to extend the Rangers lead 3-1. Brodzinski now with goals in back-to-back games.

As play went on in the second, it looked as though Peter Laviollete and his staff would begin workshopping a Panarin – Zibanejad – Lafrenière line moving Vincent Trocheck to a line with Chris Kreider and Blake Wheeler. Of course we wouldn’t really get much of a look at these new lines as the Blackhawks spent the back half of the second period with their best puck possession of the night.

It would be a mostly quiet second period but the fact that the Rangers were able to extend their lead was definitely key. After forty minutes of play, the Rangers were ahead in shots on goal 29-19 as they sneakily managed to put up 17 shots throughout the second.​​ The Blackhawks were still leading the charge in face-offs but outside of that, the Rangers were holding onto their lead and just needed to ride it out. However, finding a way to get Mika Zibanejad going would continue to be a growing priority.

3rd Period:

Zibanejad would start the final period of regulation alongside Chris Kreider and Artemiy Panarin as the Rangers coaching staff continued looking for ways to get him going. It was a quiet start to the period as the Rangers held Chicago without a shot for the first five minutes but a Ryan Lindgren interference penalty would send the Blackhawks back to the power play. Another valiant effort on the penalty kill kept the Blackhawks from generating any offense as the teams returned to even strength.

The longer the game went on, the more the Rangers were kind of falling off. The Blackhawks were seeing a majority of the chances throughout the third but Shesterkin was succeeding in holding them off. However with about six minutes to go, Phillip Kurashev cut towards the net and threw the puck off the pad of Shesterkin. As the rebound bounced out, Nick Foligno would end up getting enough on it to put it home which brought the Blackhawks within one, 3-2.

Not a great shift by Erik Gustafsson who got out-worked severely on the play that led to the Foligno goal. With five minutes to go, the Rangers needed to accelerate their game and find a way to close this thing out. For the next three minutes, they picked it up enough to maintain possession but wouldn’t be overly aggressive. With two minutes to go, Chicago pulled Petr Mrazek for the extra attacker and of course, just as they got situated in the Rangers zone, a Seth Jones shot from the point would redirect off of Jason Dickinson to tie the game up 3-3.

A brutal lapse for this Rangers team who should’ve easily skated into a regulation win but instead, let the Blackhawks crawl their way back into things to force overtime.


Chicago won the initial face-off but Chris Kreider did a great job of out-working them off the draw to pick up the puck. He let a quick shot go that Mrazek was able to glove for an offensive zone face-off for the Rangers. Another lost face-off led to Chicago taking over possession the other way but the Rangers were quickly able to regain control. Alexis Lafrenière had the game on his stick on a breakaway but was shut down by Mrazek to keep this thing alive. Finally, with two and a half to go in overtime, Chris Kreider fed a pass over to Zibanejad in the slot that would beat Mrazek up high to not only earn the Rangers the win, but snap quite the goal scoring drought for the Rangers number one center.

Far from perfect as this team needs to be better when playing with the lead, especially on the defensive side of the puck but nevertheless, a win is a win. The Rangers now find themselves on a four game win streak which is their longest stretch of wins since early November. Final tally on shots on goal would be 36-31 in favor of New York. Mika Zibanejad would also break a Rangers record with his overtime game winner passing Brian Leetch, Cecil Dillon and Butch Keeling for all-time overtime goals.

The Rangers are back at it on Monday Night as they’ll host the Calgary Flames.