Kevin Klein had a bloody left ear that need 14 stitches after he was high sticked in the first period Monday night at Madison Square Garden, The New York Rangers defenseman got the overtime winning goal in a hard fought 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Klein hopefully will play more of a role on the power play.
There are possibilities that Klein will be a significant part of a unit that needs a boost as the Rangers are still trying to sustain momentum and gain consistency. Klein has never scored more that four goals in a season since his NHL debut in 2006. The game winner was his sixth and he did it with a piece of the ear that was a talk of the Rangers post game locker room.
“I’m going to get a lot of heat because I am not using him on the power play, taking a lot of heat from inside out dressing room,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Kleiner has done a real job of finding the open lane, finding the open spot. Again tonight that’s the second time he came up real big for us in overtime.”
The coach may have been kidding about the ear. “I don’t know if any of you saw his ear there. but he lost a piece of it. We sewed it back.”
The ear may have been sewed back, and so was the Rangers ability to come back after the Penguins in a span of 24 seconds scored consecutive goals in the third period that tied the game. It was very similar to the game against Detroit on Sunday when New York gave up the lead.
The Rangers at times seem like a team that is still trying to find themselves. Even though they came into play a game over .500, the significance of this win and any momentum builder will have to wait a few more days because their next game is not until Saturday at Vancouver.
“You have to give them credit too,” said Rick Nash about the Penguins ability to overcome their deficit. “They have a lot of superstars. It’s just a matter of time letting them have that momentum especially after they score that first one and come back with a better shift.”
Nash extended his point streak to eight games with six goals and three assists, the longest for a Ranger this season.
He said about the overtime win, “It’s huge. You lose that and it could stop momentum big time. But in saying that the way we stuck with it builds a lot of character, It’s a huge win and we needed it.”
But it was all about Klein who found an opening and let the puck go by Marc-Andre Fleury.
“He’s been great defensively and he’s jumping up in the play and creating offense,” added Nash. “I played against him a lot of years when he was in Nashville and I know how hard he is to play against as well ,so it’s fun to have him on our side.”
Klein is tied for first among NHL defensemen with three game winning goals and is two points away from recording his 100th career NHL point. The opportunities have been presented and Klein admits it’s the forwards that deserve credit.
“Look at it this way,” he said, “the forwards get us the puck, the opportunities. When they get it up to us at the point we can try and change the angle and they’re driving hard to the net like that. It creates a lot of chaos. I was trying to get it through for our forwards because they’re doing such a good job.”
But the most important thing is the Rangers got a win. The confidence getting the puck to Klein has them in the right direction as they try and continue to be more consistent in the win column.
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