Recap: Shesterkin, Fox lead Rangers past Coyotes 4-1

The win was not the prettiest, but it was much needed.

After a tough loss in Nashville, the Rangers hosted the lowly Coyotes at Madison Square Garden. Last time the Rangers and Coyotes faced off, the Rangers narrowly won despite dominating play. This time, the Rangers handily won despite sleepwalking through the first 35 minutes.

Both the Rangers and Coyotes played yesterday, and when the game started, they looked like two teams that played yesterday. Both teams lacked a spark and failed to generate any significant chances or zone time. The Coyotes woke up when they went on back to back powerplays. The Rangers decidedly did not. In fact the Rangers didn’t record a single shot on goal for the first twelve and a half minutes of play, until Ryan Lindgren, freshly sprung from the penalty box, flicked a wrister into the chest of Connor Ingram. Yes, the Rangers did so little that I’m describing a single shot attempt like it was a highlight. Igor Shesterkin, to his credit, made some tough saves on the Coyotes powerplay, which came into tonight third (!) in the league with a PP% greater than 30. A late New York powerplay didn’t prevent the Rangers from being out shot 17-4. By the Coyotes.

The first ten minutes of the second were more of the same. The Rangers again couldn’t put the puck on net for nearly ten minutes before Kappo Kakko was denied on a tight backhander. Discipline was also a problem for the Rangers, but paradoxically, they seemed to create better chances down a man. Jimmy Vesey and Chris Kreider each had a look on an odd man rush. Perhaps they gained some confidence after killing off so many penalties from such a vaunted powerplay. After 35 minutes of virtually no offense, the Rangers scored back to back goals to grab a two-nothing lead. Goodrow scored the first off of a boneheaded turnover by the Coyotes. Adam Fox wristed home the second, with Filip Chytil chipping in for the assist. Fox has now scored in six in a row, and Chytil continues to wrack up points since returning to the lineup.

The Rangers notched an insurance goal on a powerplay early in the third on what might be called an unorthodox deflection by Kreider. Shortly after came a nerve wracking moment, Shersterkin was somewhat shaken up after a collision with Christian Fischer. He stayed in the game, but appeared to remain in some discomfort. He surrendered his first goal of the game on the ensuring Coyotes powerplay, as Clayton Keller beat him from a sharp angle. Ryan Carpenter’s first goal as a Ranger reestablished the three goal lead, and that score would stick.

Overall, the final score was about what one would hope, but the process to get there was unusual. The penalty kill was good, Shesterkin was great, and that was enough to tide the Rangers over until their offense woke up. There have been so many games this season where it felt like the Rangers could have won 4-1, but this wasn’t really one of them. And yet they did, because chaos rules the universe in general and hockey in specific.

The Rangers will be back in action Thursday night in Seattle, which will be the first of a four game west coast road trip.