Recap: Zibanejad, Kreider Spark Rangers Comeback Win 

Recap: Zibanejad, Kreider Spark Rangers Comeback Win 
Apr 7, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) is greeted by New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (16) after scoring a goal in the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With five games to go in the 2023-24 regular season, the Rangers played host to the Montreal Canadiens but before puck drop, our attention was brought to ice level as public address announcer Joe Tolleson welcomed the McDonald Family back to the Garden ice to announce the annual recipient of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. Always a touching moment as the award is now presented by Steven’s son Connor, as the Rangers take to reflecting on the legacy of Steven McDonald. An always touching ceremony as this year’s honors would go to a well-deserving Vincent Trocheck.

1st Period:

The Rangers got off to a good start again led by their go-to line in Trocheck, Panarin and Lafrenière. They had a couple of grade A chances in the early parts of the period, the first of which coming from Lafrenière as he was fed a perfect pass from Artemiy Panarin from behind the net that was turned away by Cayden Primeau. A couple of minutes later, it was that line again generating offense as Panarin was sent on a quick breakaway that nearly ended up in the back of the net.

Nearing the midway mark of the opening period, Ryan Lindgren had a great chance right at the doorstep and was not only shut down by Primeau but cross-checked from behind by Michael Pezzetta. This gave the Rangers the games first power play of the game but to no avail, the score remained locked at zero.

For the most part, it was all New York to start the night but Cayden Primeau was showing early indications of being the difference maker as he continued to come up with save after save. One of the big highlights on the Rangers side of things came from a shift after the man advantage where Lafrenière was out there with Wennberg and Kakko. A quick spin-a-rama preceded a beautiful no-look pass to Kakko that required another key save from Primeau off the one-timer shot.

Obviously given their success this season you don’t even want to think about taking Lafrenière off that line with Trocheck and Panarin but man, that one shift with Kakko was quite exciting.

In the final 30 seconds of the period, Igor Shesterkin came up with a great save on a redirect by Cole Caufield off a shot from David Savard at the point. However, as Shesterkin recovered from the initial save, Caufield was able to bank the rebound off his pad into the back of the net to give Montreal a 1-0 lead to take into the first intermission.

An unfortunate end to an otherwise solid period from the Blueshirts as they out-shout Montreal 17-11, out-hit them and won 65% of the draws which allowed them to control play through the majority of the period. The Rangers had more attempts and double the high-danger chances but a couple of turnovers and defensive zone mishaps allowed Montreal to hang around, eventually sneaking their way onto the scoreboard.

2nd Period:

Picking right back up with the pace they carried through most of the first, the Rangers continued generating consistent offense and dominating play. So much so that there was a several minute stretch early on in the period where the Montreal skaters were stuck in their own zone unable to get off for a line change. Cayden Primeau continued to stand on his way, shutting down each of the Rangers best chances including an outstanding point blank chance from Panarin off a cross ice feed from Adam Fox.

Just over the midway mark of the game, the Rangers were getting closer as Mika Zibanejad ripped a shot off the post but they still couldn’t find its way to the back of the net. With seven and a half to go in the second, Juraj Slafkovsky tripped up Kaapo Kakko in the Rangers end of the ice to give them their second power play of the night which finally allowed them to get on the board.

An intended shot from Panarin at the point was re-routed by the stick of Savard to end up on Zibanejad’s side of the ice. As Mika was looking for the pass to Kreider at the doorstep, the puck took a redirect off the skate of Joel Armia to slide through the legs of Primeau, tying the game up 1-1.

Things were getting a little chippy and as play went on, Montreal was slowly getting more involved. A couple of scrums ensued throughout the period which included one instance where Kreider and Zibanejad were both escorted to the bench as Tanner Pearson was to Montreal’s while he and Kreider shared some spirited conversation.

Montreal again ended the period on a strong note as they completely dominated play and drew a Rangers penalty as Will Cuylle tripped up Michael Matheson at the end of a very long shift. This would come as Montreal’s first power play of the night but it would be broken up as one period ended and the third was set to begin at the end of the second intermission. Shots were now 29-20 in favor of the Rangers with the score tied at one with twenty left to go.

3rd Period:

Kicking off the third period still shorthanded, the Rangers had about a minute and a half to kill off Montreal’s man advantage. About 30 seconds in, Shesterkin took a hard shot off the face mask which left him in need of a new helmet after an attempted quick repair to his already equipped one. Can’t say that’s something you see everyday.

Not long after the penalty to Cuylle expired, Alex Wennberg drew a hooking penalty on Joel Armia to send the Rangers back to the power play. It wouldn’t take the top unit long to get situated and sure enough, a shot from Artemiy Panarin would get deflected in by Chris Kreider in front of the net to make it a 2-1 game.

More milestones as Kreider officially passed Rod Gilbert for second most power play goals in franchise history with 109.

Just two minutes later, a phenomenal give and go from Artemiy Panarin resulted in the Rangers extending their lead to 3-1. Not to be overlooked was the effort from Braden Schneider in the Rangers own end to get the puck over to Panarin and some help from Lafrenière to find Panarin back in the slot tied together a highlight reel goal for what’s been a highlight filled season for Artemiy Panarin who picked up his third point of the night on the goal.

As a result of the pair of goals, it felt like the Rangers had a pretty good grasp on things but with just under eight minutes to go in the game, one outlet pass would change that. Alex Newhook came down on a breakaway and snuck a quick shot through Shesterkin to bring Montreal within one, 3-2.

All of a sudden, the Canadiens were within one and the Rangers were forced to tighten up a bit but with three minutes to go, a great forecheck from Jimmy Vesey got the puck to Mika Zibanejad who was all alone in front to quickly sneak a shot past Primeau for his second of the night to make it a 4-2 game.

With close to two minutes to go, Montreal pulled Primeau for the extra attacker and after a missed attempt from Panarin, it was Alexis Lafrenière putting the game to bed 5-2. Panarin still picked up a point on the play with the primary assist for his 115th point of the season. That leaves him just nine points away from the Rangers franchise single season points record currently held by Jaromir Jagr.

A big win for the Rangers quest to clinch the Division and chase the President’s Trophy as they tie the all-time franchise record for wins in a season at 53. The Rangers are back at it Tuesday Night on Long Island as they’ll have the chance to clinch the Metropolitan Division with a win against the Islanders and a regulation loss for Carolina.