Recap: Panarin 5-Point Night Leads NYR to 7-4 Win 

Recap: Panarin 5-Point Night Leads NYR to 7-4 Win 
Mar 16, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) celebrates his goal with the Rangers bench against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers action packed week continued with one of two afternoon matinees, the first of which coming against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Congratulations in order ahead of this game as the longest tenured Ranger celebrates his 800th career game in Chris Kreider. He becomes the 10th skater in franchise history to appear in 800 games and is on pace to continue to climb that later by the end of this season.

With Jonathan Quick in net for the Blueshirts, the only other changes to the lineup would be Jimmy Vesey moving up to the third line in place of Will Cuylle.

1st Period:

Afternoon games have the tendency to get off to a bit of a slow start but this certainly would not be the case today. Just a couple of minutes into the game, after some great back and forth play John Ludvig let a shot go from the point through a ton of traffic to beat Jonathan Quick and put the Penguins on the board early, 1-0.

Just 31 seconds later, a tremendous forecheck from Alex Wennberg allowed for Jimmy Vesey to send a pass across the slot to Kaapo Kakko who banged the shot home to tie it up 1-1.

36 seconds after the Kakko goal, a beautiful passing play from Vincent Trocheck and Artemiy Panarin set up Adam Fox for an even prettier individual effort to pull off a move that left him sending a backhander past Tristan Jarry to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Kakko would take the Rangers first penalty of the day as he took down Michael Bunting away from the play to get called for interference. The Rangers did a great job of killing that penalty off and ended up spending close to two minutes in the Penguins zone, moving the puck incredibly well. This led to the Penguins first penalty of the afternoon as Drew O’Connor was called for slashing Alexis Lafrenière. The Rangers power play has been going through one of its dry spells as of late and that would continue to be the case as the two minutes came and went without them converting.

For a very brief moment in time it felt like things were slowing down but sure enough, after a bit of a defensive zone breakdown, Sidney Crosby picked up his 986th career assist, finding Bryan Rust on the opposite side of the net perfectly to put it into the wide open net. Seemed as soon as Crosby pucked up the puck, everyone got caught puck watching as Rust tied things back up at two apiece.

With just under five minutes to go, not long after Rust scored, K’Andre Miller sent the puck ahead to Vincent Trocheck on the rush. Using the word perfect here feels like an understatement, but Trocheck patiently held onto the puck and sent a picture perfect saucer pass over a sliding Ryan Graves for Panarin to tap it in, making it a 3-2 game.

Panarin continues to edge himself in Rangers history as he continues his monstrosity of a season, hitting the 90 point mark once again. K’Andre Miller also picks up his 100th point of his young career.

I’m unsure if you could have asked for a more entertaining opening period as it was jam packed with highlight real goals and non-stop action. The Rangers would take that 3-2 lead into the first intermission despite the Penguins out-shooting them 10-8 through the first twenty. The Penguins led in face-offs, shots and attempts but the Rangers led the way in high danger chances, hits and expected goals for. Both teams came up empty handed on their lone special team opportunities but as the first period proved, there was plenty of room out there for goals to be had.

2nd Period:

Things slowed down significantly at the start of the second but after close to five minutes, the Rangers headed back to the penalty kill as Adam Fox was called for holding. A bit of a weak call as Lars Eller and Adam Fox got tied up together behind the play which resulted in Fox going down with him.

Kreider had a great chance for a breakaway at the end of his shift on the penalty kill but opted to look for his best friend Zibanejad instead of getting a shot off. This wouldn’t be their only chance as Trocheck had a handful of outstanding scoring opportunities that were turned away by a combination of solid goaltending from Jarry and some potential non-calls on Pittsburgh’s defenders.

While the Rangers dominated Pittsburgh’s man advantage, the Penguins picked up a couple of chances afterwards and soon enough they were back to the power play as Will Cuylle was sent off for interfering with Rickard Rakell. The Penguins immediately had a grade A scoring chance on the man advantage Lars Eller came in on a partial breakaway but was shut down by Jonathan Quick. He would however, get his revenge as the Rangers were unable to clear the zone after Adam Fox blocked a hard shot that left him struggling to move. As the Rangers fumbled around their house, Eller was found all alone on the wide open side of the net, tying the game 3-3.

As the period went on, it seemed that the Rangers were struggling to get much going and were beginning to turn the puck over more frequently. With about six minutes to go in the period, Noel Acciari was called for tripping which led to the Rangers controlling play with Quick pulled for the delayed penalty. The 6-on-5 sort of became a 6-on-4 as a Penguins player was without a stick but after a couple great looks from Zibanejad and the Rangers fourth line, the puck finally turned hands and the play was blown dead.

This gave the Rangers a much needed break and right off the face-off to start the power play,  a shot from Adam Fox at the point was first poked at by Kreider in front of the net but was put away by Artemiy Panarin for his second of the night to make it a 4-3 game. The Rangers would still get a full power play chance as Kris Letang was called for unsportsmanlike conduct just before the goal.

After struggling a bit to get situated, the Rangers were able to capitalize once again as Zibanejad entered the zone and sent it over to Panarin. Panarin then went across the slot to Kreider who had Zibanejad to go right back to all alone in front of the net to extend the Rangers lead, 5-3.

Despite a slower start to the period, it was another action-packed twenty minutes as the Rangers lost the lead but regained it thanks to a pair of power play goals from Panarin and Zibanejad late in the second. After two, shots were 22-21 in favor of the Penguins but the Rangers seemed to have good control of things in a good position to close things out with one defensively strong period.

3rd Period:

Jonathan Quick would be the story through the early parts of the final period of regulation as the Penguins were making a push to get back in this game and the Rangers net-minder wasn’t giving them any chance to do so. After five minutes of Pittsburgh getting a couple of great chances that were shut down by Quick, the Rangers put the game even further out of reach. A hard shot from K’Andre Miller at the point went through a Trocheck screen to find the back of the net, putting an early end to Tristan Jarry’s night, with the score now 6-3 New York.

Panarin also picks up his 500th career assist on the goal for his fifth point of the night… Now that’s the type of star effort you want to see from your top guys.

Of course that wouldn’t do it as there was still plenty of hockey left and with twelve and a half to go, the Rangers gave up an odd man rush and Reilly Smith fed Valtteri Puustinen a nice pass to bury a one timer to make it a 6-4 game. Adam Fox dove to try and keep the puck in Pittsburgh’s zone which just as they pointed out in the broadcast, was probably too much of an extra effort in a game where they had a three goal lead seeing as it led to the odd man rush.

The Penguins continued to push and Jonathan Quick continued to come up with some really clutch saves to keep his team in it. Through the majority of the third, the Penguins were completely dominating the shot attempts and were out-shooting the Rangers 14-6. With just under three minutes to go, the Penguins pulled Alex Nedelkjevic, who replaced Jarry in net for the extra attacker. Soon enough, Michael Bunting had a tremendous chance to bring the Penguins within one but was again shut down by Quick who continued to be excellent.

After a couple empty net attempts-turned-icings, a great effort from K’Andre Miller got the puck out of the zone and Chris Kreider took it in all alone to celebrate his 800th game with the final goal of a 7-4 win. That would do it for what turned into an incredibly exciting outing as the Rangers got their power play back on track in an offensively explosive showing to bounce back after the tough loss to Tampa earlier in the week.

The Rangers still have some work cut out for them as they’ll head right home from Pittsburgh to gear up for an even earlier afternoon puck drop tomorrow for a little St. Patrick’s Day showdown with the Islanders.