Traverse City Recap: Kaapo Kakko Nets Overtime Winner Against Minnesota

The New York Rangers closed out their round robin schedule this afternoon as they defeated the Minnesota Wild by a final score of 4-3.

1st Period

The Rangers got into some early penalty trouble in this game, and that shifted the momentum in favor of Minnesota pretty quickly. Igor Shesterkin was forced to carry a majority of the load as he turned away a barrage of shots on the power play. Thanks to Shesterkin’s strong play, the Rangers were able to escape the pair of penalty kills unharmed. With the Rangers unable to get anything going following their early struggles, the Wild took a late first period off of a mistake in the neutral zone.

Ivan Lodnia was able to strip the puck loose as the Rangers transitioned up ice, and quickly broke the other way on a breakaway. Lodnia was able to fool Shesterkin with a quick head fake and snapped the puck through his legs to make it a 1-0 game in favor of Minnesota.

2nd Period

Both teams continued to trade power play opportunities during the second period, but neither team was able to generate much offense. Following the Rangers strongest penalty kill of the afternoon, Minnesota was able to catch a fortunate bounce in front of the net. Igor Shesterkin was caught off guard by a bouncing puck in the high slot, and Darian Pilon swatted the puck out of midair to make it 2-0.

During the closing minute of the second period, the Rangers were handed a five minute power play after Drake Pilon was ejected for a check to the head. Lewis Zerter-Gossage, who signed an AHL contract this summer with the Hartford Wolf Pack, was left bloodied in the corner after the ugly high hit. The Rangers were unable to convert early on with the man-advantage and as a result, trailed by a pair of goals heading into the intermission.

3rd Period

Despite a slow start to the power play, the Rangers tied the game up within a 1:38 span courtesy of Vitali Kravtsov. Just a minute into the third period, Kravtsov was able to locate a loose puck near the crease and buried it into the empty net. Kaapo Kakko did an excellent job of firing a shot through traffic to generate the rebound.

A short time after the opening goal, it was Kravtsov again to tie the game after wiring a shot off of a beautiful cross-ice feed from Kaapo Kakko.

Unfortunately, the Rangers surrendered the go-ahead goal nearly two minutes after the impressive sequence by Kravtsov. A bad turnover at the blueline by Nico Gross led to a quick transition by Minnesota, and Matvey Guskov sniped one past Igor Shesterkin on the far side. Despite going down by a goal, the Rangers kept pushing throughout the third period and were clearly the better team.

With a little over a minute remaining in regulation, Kaapo Kakko went to work behind the net and setup Patrick Newell with a spin-o-rama pass. The puck deflected off of a few bodies in front before Newell knocked the puck out of midair and in behind Hunter Jones.

The game needed overtime to decide the winner, and it wasn’t long before Kaapo Kakko found the scoresheet with his fourth point of the game. Kakko picked up the puck with speed, and circled the net twice before any Wild defender was able to come near him. He finished it off with a quick wraparound on the short side and gave the Rangers the 4-3 win in overtime.

Following their impressive overtime win over Minnesota this afternoon, the Rangers will have one final placement game tomorrow which will close out the tournament.