Recap: Rangers Back on Top With Win #40

Recap: Rangers Back on Top With Win #40
Feb 28, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets by defenseman Adam Fox (not pictured) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers got their revenge game with the Blue Jackets as they wrapped up their season series, picking up their 40th win of the year in the process. There’s no question the loss in Columbus over the weekend left a sour taste in the Rangers mouths as they came out flying and showed up for quite the battle. Their efforts certainly paid off as the win put them back on top of the standings as they become the first team in the league to hit the 40 win mark this season.

1st Period:

The Rangers kicked things off with a strong shift from the Trocheck line as Panarin found a nice pass over to Lafrenière for a chance with the one-timer. As play continued, both teams picked up their offense. Matt Rempe had a nice little move as he came down the right wing side to try and find Barclay Goodrow with a pass. Columbus then had a pair of chances on two different breakaway attempts but Igor Shesterkin was equal to both challenges.

Right at the halfway point of the period, Artemiy Panarin had the best chance of the night as Lafrenière gave Panarin a perfect feed across the slot but was shut down by an incredible save from Elvis Merzlikins. Another great shift from the fourth line led to the first penalty of the night as Ivan Provorov was sent off for interfering with Adam Edström.

The power play unit’s certainly got their cardio in as the Jackets continued sending the puck back into the Rangers zone as two minutes came and went with only one official shot on goal. Towards the end of the man advantage, the second power play unit appeared to be moving the puck well but just couldn’t get the perfect shot off. Columbus immediately went the other way with it and once again, tested Shesterkin who came up with a sharp pad save to keep the game locked at zero.

On the other end of the ice, Elvis Merzlikins continued to shut down every chance the Rangers had. First, he came up with a massive save on Jonny Brodzinski who got a quick shot off flying in hard on the glove side. Then he completely robbed Will Cuylle of a rebound chance before coming up with a handful of other key saves. Goaltending would absolutely become the story of the period as both teams had their share of grade-A scoring chances.

Total shots on goal would be 17-9 in favor of the Rangers heading into the first intermission. While the teams remained scoreless and there was only one penalty through the first twenty, the game was certainly off to an eventful start with some great pace to it. The two days off certainly helped the Rangers have more of a jump to their game than they did in Columbus on Sunday.

2nd Period:

Things settled down a bit to start the second as Columbus took a more conservative approach which led to far more infrequent high danger chances. So much so, that each team only had a pair of shots on goal nearing the midway point of the night. Finally, with about 13 minutes to go in the second, the Rangers found a way to beat Merzlikins. The team was having a good night in the face-off dot and right off an offensive zone draw, Aretmiy Panarin won a puck battle and let a quick shot go that snuck through Merzlikins to make it a 1-0 game.

The Rangers were sustaining great offensive zone pressure in the shifts that followed and yet again, the fourth line had a tremendous scoring chance. Unfortunately, the opportunity was cut short as a collision between Vincent Trocheck and Johnny Gaudreau resulted in a bit of a scrum at center ice. Mathieu Oliveir did not take kindly to the play as he immediately went after Trocheck with a cross-check yet somehow, Trocheck was initially given a major penalty. Evidently, they called it a major so they could review the play and sure enough, they got the call right. No penalty to Trocheck, and a minor penalty to Olivier for the cross-check.

This gave the Rangers their second power play of the night to which they had a much better outcome than the first time around. Chris Kreider made a great defensive play to keep Erik Gudbranson from clearing the zone which resulted in him finding Adam Fox in the slot. Fox had Panarin cutting to the right side of the net but opted for the shot which became the right decision as it beat Merzlikins to make it a 2-0 game.

The Rangers would carry out the final five minutes of the second with their two goal lead, now out-shooting the Blue Jackets 26-19. It wasn’t as fast-paced of a period as the first, but the Rangers were able to break through the strong goaltending of Merzlikins to establish a solid lead for themselves.

3rd Period:

Two minutes into the third, the Rangers took their first penalty of the evening as Barclay Goodrow took down Adam Boqvist behind the net of Shesterkin. The power play to Columbus would only last about 30 seconds as Kent Johnson was called for hooking Mika Zibanejad as he attempted to carry the puck out of the zone. As the team’s skated 4-on-4, Columbus would find their way on the scoreboard as Cole Sillinger picked up on a rebound after Shesterkin made a desperation save after he attempted to clear the puck on his own from behind his net.

A tough break for Shesterkin which would only continue as he would take a penalty just a couple of minutes later. Kirill Marchenko came in with great speed and pulled over a couple of incredible moves, one of which perfectly dodging what would have been a lethal body check from Jacob Trouba. As he came in all alone on Shesterkin, the Rangers netminder ended up taking him down with the stick which kept the puck out of the net but sent the team’s penalty killers right back to the ice.

Meanwhile, on the Jackets power play, Elvis Merzlikins channeled his inner Dominik Hasek and came way out of the crease to poke the puck away from Trocheck, who otherwise would have had a potential breakaway opportunity. Nevertheless, the Rangers were able to kill off the rest of the penalty but as the period went on, the Blue Jackets were slowly catching up to the Rangers in shots on goal.

Nearing the final five minutes of regulation, the Rangers were being out-shot throughout the third period 11-2. With four and a half to go, Will Cuylle threw a hit that was a little on the questionable side and resulted in Dmitri Voronkov dropping the gloves and going after Cuylle. Seeing as there was less than five minutes left to begin with, both players were sent to their respective dressing rooms as the teams remained at even strength.

With just under two minutes to go, Columbus pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. About a minute later, Jimmy Vesey cleared it ahead to Panarin who sent it over for Kreider who skated it into the empty net for his 30th goal of the season. It would be good karma on Panarin who gave it up to Kreider the first time around as he would cash in on his second of the night on the second empty-netter to make it a 4-1 win for the Rangers.

Not a bad night for the history books as Panarin continues to add to his career high goal total, Kreider hit the 30 goal mark for the third season in a row and Fox becomes the first defenseman since Brian Leetch to record three straight 10 goal seasons. The Rangers will hit the road again this weekend as they cross the border to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday Night.