Recap: Rangers Power to Shootout Win with Lafrenière Magic

Tonight’s game, while equally important to any other game didn’t feel like it’d end up being a grudge match. Two teams in the same division, one at the top and the other at the bottom, while they have history did they historically have a rivalry? Before tonight’s game I’d probably have told you no, but something was in the air tonight between these two Metropolitan clubs. The next generation for both squads are picking up their respective mantles and finding reasons to remember each other. This was a chippy one, let’s break it down.

1st Period

The two teams were trading chances and opportunities when just over halfway through the period, Trouba delivered a clean open ice hit. As has been the case with many of the hits Trouba has handed out, they resonate and bodies go flying, and in most cases the opposing team takes issue with it. This time Trouba laid the hurt on Kirill Marchenko, immediately Columbus’ rookie and 2023 3rd overall pick Adam Fantilli took issue with it. Now here is where it gets a bit sketchy, Trouba has gone on record stating his frustrations with having to defend a clean body check, so with this mindset in place Trouba anticipated Fantilli and lashed out at Fantilli with his gloved hand. Unfortunately this led to a Blue Jackets power play, and the game certainly escalated as the tension climbed.

Just over two minutes later as the first period was winding down, the Rangers found momentum and got on the board. Zibanejad floated a perfect lead pass for Wheeler who skated the puck into the offensive zone. He dropped the puck back to Gustafsson, who pivoted the slightest amount, partially freezing Merzilikins, Gustafsson then made a perfect pass to Kreider who wristed the shot into the back of the net. Gustafsson is making the most out of the opportunity to fill Fox’s skates, this goal was a direct result of his all around effort to play defense and move the puck back up the ice.

2nd Period

Didn’t take long for the tension to rise again in the middle frame. Penalties were handed out after Trocheck and Kuraly got into it, and lots of flavorful language was used on both sides. This time after the penalties expired the Rangers struck first.

Panarin pressured Bean and stole the puck. He hit a streaking Trocheck who had speed coming into the offensive zone with the perfect pass. Lafrenière found the perfect spot on the opposite wing, and Trocheck got the puck over to the young winger, who hesitated the slightest amount, forcing Merzilikins into making the first move and then put the puck right over his sprawling pads. A couple things to note here, one this tic-tac-toe play was a thing of beauty. This line has really found some chemistry. Second, Lafrenière is getting to the right places at the right time, he just needed the ice time folks. Last but not least, Artemiy Panarin’s point streak is now 14 games long tying Rangers legend Rod Gilbert.

Not too long after the Rangers finished celebrating and the garden had begun to calm down, the Blue Jackets struck again, not once but twice in a span of 19 seconds. Fantilli broke in alone and put a wrist shot past Quick. Immediately after the ensuing faceoff, the Rangers iced the puck. They lost a faceoff which led to a great chance from the slot that Quick got in front of but Kuraly got to the rebound first and scored. The Blue Jackets now had their first lead of the night.

As the second was ending, the Rangers had another great chance. Will Cuylle put the puck on net from a sharp angle, and celebrated as if he saw the puck in the net.  Kakko got a few whacks at the puck fore the play was blown dead. The refs and league took a full 6 minutes to review this play, and as the play by play announcers seemed to think it’d be a good goal, they ruled the puck had never fully crossed the line before the whistle was blown. While I disagree with the ruling here, watch the video below and make up your own mind.

3rd Period

The Rangers down by one were a force for much of the third period but Columbus and Merzilikins were a challenge to breach. The team defensively kept the Rangers out of the center of the ice, only allowing them space on the perimeter. Their strategy became even more clear as the game was ticking down and the Rangers pulled Quick for an extra attacker. Sam and Joe even called out how Columbus wasn’t allowing the Rangers an inch of the high danger areas, however in doing so they were playing a very conservative game and allowing the Rangers to move the puck all around the zone. Finally on their seventeenth shot with only 11 seconds left in the game, the Blueshirts tied it off the back of a pretty play sequence that saw Lafrenière get his second of the game. Panarin got the puck through to the net and Kreider was able to shove the puck to Lafrenière at the side of the net and he put the puck between Merzilikins’ glove and the post. This game was going to overtime.


The five minute overtime period went by in a flash. Both teams went back and forth in trading odd man rushes and top tier scoring opportunities. The highlights at the end of each spectrum of offense and defense were definitely Gustaffson ricocheting a puck off the cross bar and Miller making a beautiful poke check on Laine and interrupting a partial breakaway. Both teams had players skating hard both up and down the ice as there was as much back checking as there was forechecking. It was clear we were going to need some more time.

The shootout commenced and the Rangers were up first. Panarin came in slow looking to deke the goalie out of his skates but due to a slight bobble never had the control he wanted and failed to score. Gaudreau then failed to score in response as Quick made the save and that’s the way it was until the last Rangers’ skater in the original set entered, Alexis Lafrenière. Having scored twice tonight, including the game tying goal, the puck was once again on his stick. The crowd was electric as he calmly skated down the center of the ice. You could hear the audible gasp from the crowd as he in one fluid motion smoothly went to his backhand and roofed the puck into the top corner of the net. The Rangers were on the board. Columbus’ last skater Texier came down the ice and attempted to slide the puck through Quick who caught a piece of it and the puck went up over the net. The Rangers won, and it was because of Alexis Lafrenière’s heroics.