Recap: PK Leads Rangers to 9th Consecutive Win 

Recap: PK Leads Rangers to 9th Consecutive Win 
Feb 22, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As Sam said at the top of the broadcast, it’s the renewal of the Hudson River Rivalry and sure enough, it would be far from a friendly meeting between the two teams. The Rangers came into this one coming off a strong team win against Dallas on Tuesday but had a couple of question marks prior to puck drop. Both Artemiy Panarin and Jimmy Vesey were game time decisions as recent call-up Brennan Othmann joined Alex Belzile in warm-ups out of precaution. Sure enough, both Rangers regulars were good to go which made for the same line-up we saw Tuesday.

1st Period:

Far from an ideal start for the Rangers as just two and a half minutes in they were faced with a five minute major penalty to fight off. Matt Rempe went hard into the Devils zone on his first shift of the night and delivered a hard hit to Nathan Bastian that caught him right in the head. Jonas Siegenthaler was quick to go after Rempe and quick to want no part of it as Rempe immediately dropped the gloves and delivered a couple of blows to the Devils’ defender.

Quite a tough sight as Bastian was visibly cut and shaken up which you never want to see. From a rules standpoint, it’s an incredibly difficult call to make. By the book, it was a clean hit in the sense that Rempe didn’t leave his feet, led with the shoulder and kept his elbow tucked. However, it was direct contact to the head which is exactly what the league is trying to get rid of and rightfully so. Just an unfortunate situation considering Rempe is 6”8 and Bastian was already bent over a bit low. A tough lesson for the Rangers rookie who would get the gate on his first shift of his third NHL game.

The Rangers had their work cut out for them but were up for the challenge as they did a good job of matching up to the Devils power play. They limited New Jersey to just five shots, kept them out of the Rangers house and did a great job of getting sticks and bodies in the way of the puck. With a minute to go on their man advantage, Chris Kreider picked up the puck in the Rangers zone and took it up the left wing side of the ice for a good chance short handed but rung the puck off the post.

With just under eleven minutes to go in the first, Igor covered the puck for a whistle and took an extra hack from Curtis Lazar that the Rangers netminder did not appreciate. So much so, Igor threw a quick jab at Lazar which drew a big crowd in front of the net but worked in their favor as Lazar was sent off for the Devils first penalty of the night.

While the Devils had five minutes of power play time and couldn’t find the net, the Rangers were able to capitalize on their man advantage less than five seconds into it as Mika Zibanejad let a shot-pass go, intended for Chris Kreider that would end up bouncing off some Devils skates in front of the net to find the back of the net. Rangers up 1-0 halfway through the first.

With three and a half to go in the period, Tyler Toffoli intercepted the puck and had a chance on the rush that was slowed down by the stick of Artemiy Panarin. He would get called for hooking which wasn’t a great penalty to take by any means but thankfully, Igor came up with a pair of really strong saves before the Rangers got the whistle. Again, the Rangers were off to a marvelous start on the penalty kill but less than halfway through, Erik Haula would get called for slashing Adam Fox to make it just over a minute of 4-on-4 hockey.

Right off the offensive zone face-off, Jonny Brodzinski went to work on an incredible forecheck which forced a turnover to Alexis Lafrenière that he was able to snap a quick shot past Nico Daws on the glove side to extend the Rangers lead 2-0.

The Rangers would finish off the period on the power play as the penalty to Panarin expired but the score would remain 2-0 through the games first twenty. After a brutal start that got Rempe tossed and put the team at a five minute disadvantage, the Rangers persevered and put together a great effort that earned them a two goal lead through a feisty opening period. Shots were 16-9 in favor of the Devils but the story of the period was certainly special teams as the Rangers killed off the major, scored a power play goal and converted at 4-v-4 play.

2nd Period:

The physicality would continue into the second as Nathan Bastian took a massive hit, almost the exact same amount of time into the period as the Rempe hit in the first. Only difference here was the hit, this time from Trouba, was about as perfectly clean a hit can get. Bastian spent too much time looking at the puck and where he was going, not paying enough attention to the play around him which is something you really should avoid with Jacob Trouba on the ice.

A perfectly executed, clean hockey hit but given what he went through in the opening period, Bastian was quite irate with the hit and went right after Trouba, grabbing him from behind and putting him in the head lock. Trouba, who has to lead the league in being forced to fight following clean hits, had to entertain the Bastian fight as the Rangers rightfully ended up with a power play. The Rangers wouldn’t find a way to convert on this one but would get another chance soon after as Luke Hughes was sent off for tripping Panarin.

Kreider had a real good chance on the power play but would save the goal for 5-v-5. Right around the midway point of the game, Igor Shesterkin made a beautiful pass down the ice to Panarin who fed it across to Kreider on the opposite side of the 2-on-1 rush. Kreider picked up his 29th of the season as he beat Daws with the shot on the low blocker side.

The Rangers would head back to the penalty kill as Kaapo Kakko caught Simon Nemec with a high stick reaching for the puck in the neutral zone. Another strong start on the penalty kill resulted in yet another grade A opportunity for Kreider but after failing to convert there, it was all New Jersey for the remainder of the penalty. Probably their best stretch of offensive zone time on the night but again, the Rangers were able to fight off another lengthy penalty kill.

Of course, the Devils would go right back to the power play as Erik Gustafsson took a defensive zone penalty you’d count on your veteran defender not to take as he tripped up Jack Hughes. You had to think at this point in the game with the amount of penalties that have already been assigned the Rangers were tempting fate but sure enough, they had yet another extraordinary penalty kill. So much so, it prompted some Igor chants from the Rangers fans that filled enemy territory.

With 40 seconds to go in the period, a beautiful zone entry from that Rangers top line led to an even prettier individual effort from Lafrenière to beat Daws with a nice move for his second of the night to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

Surplus of penalties aside, the Rangers were putting on an absolute clinic in Newark as their special teams were leading them to quite a dominant showing. The Rangers were still being out-shot, now 27-14 but set themselves up nicely with a four goal lead to take into the final period of play.

3rd Period:

It was a much more low key period for the Rangers as they looked to finish out another strong showing. Given how the first two periods went, you could just feel that the game had been decided even with an entire period still remaining. Timo Meier took a tripping penalty about seven minutes in to give the Rangers another power play but that came and went as they continued to just chew time off.

As the final five minutes of the game approached, Vincent Trocheck finished on a 2-on-1 off a perfect pass from Panarin to give the Rangers a 5-0 lead.

As play continued, Lafrenière was on the ice every other shift as the team was doing everything they could to get him the hat-trick. Unfortunately, that focus would backfire a bit as Jack Hughes spoiled Shesterkin’s shutout as he snuck one through with two minutes to go. Nevertheless, the Rangers held on to the lead to extend their win streak to nine. An incredibly dominant showing as the Rangers and their fans alike completely took over the Prudential Center for another great win. This one ties their third longest win streak in franchise history.

The Rangers will head to Philly from here as they kick off another weekend back-to-back with a pair of divisional match-ups as they look to build on this incredible hot streak. Puck drops at 3pm on Saturday.