Recap: Rangers Pick Up 50th Win In Milestone-Filled Night 

Recap: Rangers Pick Up 50th Win In Milestone-Filled Night 
Mar 30, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; The New York Rangers celebrate after beating the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers would wrap up their two game road trip to two of the Four Corners states with an afternoon (mountain time) battle with the Arizona Coyotes. The big story line heading into this one would be in net as Jonathan Quick had the chance to pass Ryan Miller as the all-time wins leader by American-born goaltenders. On top of the potential for history to be made, the Rangers were one away from the 50 win mark and would get some reinforcements as Captain Jacob Trouba made his return to the lineup after missing the last stretch of games with a lower-body injury.

1st Period:

Weekend matinee games always seem to be hit or miss for the Rangers and at first glance, it was feeling more like a miss. It took them a little while to get going as it was mostly Arizona controlling possession through the first ten minutes of the period. The Rangers weren’t having the easiest time getting situated in the offensive zone and were a bit sloppy in their own end as the Coyotes had the jump out the gate.

The tide slowly began to turn halfway through as the Rangers nearly got themselves on the board with eight minutes to go in the opening period. A strong shot from Zac Jones at the point snuck through Karel Vejmelka and Jack Roslovic almost got a piece of the puck dancing around in front of the goal line. Just two minutes later, It was Mika Zibanejad coming close as he rang a one-timer off the post which was almost pushed in by Arizona’s netminder as he kicked his legs back to cover up what he thought was a loose puck.

Third time would be the charm as Alexis Lafrenière came down on a 2-on-1 the very next shift with Vincent Trocheck. As the Rangers winger was deciding between the pass and the shot, Vejmelka appeared to be leaning towards the pass which made it an easy decision for Lafrenière to snipe a shot high blocker side.

The goal comes as Lafrenière’s 23rd of the season and his ninth point across his last nine games. Safe to say, the Rangers young forward is having that highly anticipated breakout season, playing with a ton of confidence.

Not long after the goal, the Rangers took the first penalty of the game as Barclay Goodrow was sent off for getting his stick up high on Lawson Crouse. After a strong showing from the Rangers penalty killers, the Blueshirts took the one goal lead into the first intermission. Shots were 13-12 in favor of the Rangers who were also playing a physical game, out-hitting Arizona 14-4. Not the best start for the Rangers but they picked it up in the second half of the period which helped them secure the lead.

2nd Period:

The Rangers carried the momentum into the second with a completely dominant start. Through the first two minutes, the puck did not leave Arizona’s zone once as the top two lines were moving the puck extremely well, exhausting the Coyotes starting line. The shift would end with an extraordinary feed from Adam Fox cross ice to Ryan Lindgren who let an absolute snipe go to beat Vejmelka, making it a 2-0 game.

The Coyotes would push back as Jonathan Quick came up with a big save on a shot from Sean Durzi and would answer back soon after. A nice zone entry had Jack McBain set up Matias Maccelli for a clean shot that soared past Quick to bring the Coyotes within one.

Less than twenty seconds later, the Rangers answered back following a tremendous effort from Vincent Trocheck to win a puck battle down low. Artemiy Panarin then found Lafrenière in the slot who pulled off a slick little move to pick up his second of the night, regaining the two goal lead for the Rangers. That goal would come as Lafrenière’s 50th point of his ever growing career year.

Just over the midway point of the game, Jonathan Quick came up with a big save on a Clayton Keller one-timer from the point. However, the Rangers wouldn’t be able to break the puck out and after finding the puck again, Keller came in and pulled off a nice move to put a backhander past Quick, making it a 3-2 game.

From that moment on, Arizona regained control quite a bit and were looking more like the team that was leading the pace in the early parts of the first period. With about four and a half to go in the second, Quick came up with a good save on a Nick Schmaltz one timer but sent the rebound right to Nick Bjugstad in the slot. Bjugstad however, couldn’t get the stick on it and ended up kicking the puck into the wide open side of the net which was immediately waved off.

About a minute later, another strong forecheck from the Rangers led to a shot from Jacob Trouba at the point which set Chris Kreider up for the rebound perfectly. This would’ve been Kreider’s 300th goal of his incredible Rangers career but alas, the Coyotes challenged the play for goaltender interference as Roslovic made contact with Vejmelka just before Kreider scored. His reaction was all of us as he tossed the puck back on the ice as the call was made.

Sure enough with 42 seconds to go in the second, Bjugstad netted one that would count as he beat Quick point blank in the slot to tie the game up, 3-3. An eventful period as the Coyotes were now out-shooting the Rangers 22-20 as they hung around, continuing to come back after the Rangers established a pair of two goal leads.

3rd Period:

Just over five minutes into the final period of regulation, Kreider would get his revenge. Lindgren did a great job of pinching with the puck, taking it behind Arizona’s net to find Roslovic for the quick shot that Kreider would redirect to officially pick up his 300th career goal as a Ranger. Now just 36 goals behind Jean Ratelle and 106 behind Rod Gilbert for the all-time record.

While it would be a night to remember for Chris Kreider, this was quickly becoming the Alexis Lafrenière show as he would pick up his fourth point of the night assisting on the goal that made it a 5-3 game. Coming down on yet another 2-on-1, Lafrenière ended up going with the pass this time around as he set up Zac Jones for a perfect one timer to extend the Rangers lead. A nice reward for the Rangers defender who has been fantastic since slotting into the lineup as injuries have occurred.

Lindgren would head to the penalty box with roughly 12 minutes to go as he was called for hooking Logan Cooley. The Rangers penalty killers were again excellent which resulted in a short-handed goal as Barclay Goodrow picked up the puck in Arizona’s zone all alone to beat Vejmelka with a quick shot. A nice goal for Goodrow who hasn’t scored since his first of the season back in November, 6-3 Rangers.

Not long after the goal, Jones would head to the box as he sent the puck over the glass in an attempt to clear the zone. Arizona has done a good job of hanging around all day and sure enough, Lawson Crouse would get them back on the scoreboard beating Quick high blocker. Just two minutes later, Logan Cooley ripped a one timer from high in the slot to bring his team within one, 6-5.

With two and a half to go, the Coyotes pulled Vejmelka for the extra attacker but a neutral zone turnover forced by Kaapo Kakko quickly led to an Artemiy Panarin empty netter to make it 7-5. Arizona would try again a minute later which allowed for Lafrenière to complete his first career hat-trick to finalize the score 8-5.

Far from a perfect outing for the Blueshirts but it will be a night to remember regarding the history books. Jonathan Quick continues to make USA Hockey (and his/my hometown of Hamden, CT) proud, becoming the winningest American-born goaltender in league history.

Alexis Lafrenière picks up his first career hat-trick in a five point showcase that put him over the 50 point mark, also for a career first. Chris Kreider continues to chase all the Ranger-great records with his 300th career goal becoming just the third Rangers of all time to reach that feat. Artemiy Panarin continues to add to his career year with his four point night that puts him at 107 career points. Not to mention the team got goals from non-traditional goal scorers in Barclay Goodrow and Zac Jones.

And to wrap it all up, that’s win number 50 on what’s been a truly outstanding regular season for the league’s current top team. The Rangers will head back home to kick off another busy week, hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday Night.