The Bread Man was baking.
The red hot Artemi Panarin had a four point night (two goals, two assists) against his old team as the Rangers scored four goals in the third period to bury the Black Hawks in Chicago, 6-2.
Chris Kreider’s power play goal snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period and the Rangers went on to score three more times to post their seventh straight win, and 11 of their last 12. It’s no surprise that in those 12 games, the “Bread Man” has 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists)
It was the Rangers 17th win of the season, the first time in franchise history they’ve won that many in the first 24 games of a season. It was the sixth consecutive game and eight of their last nine that the Rangers have held the opponent to two goals or less.
“We give ourselves a chance to win every night. We’re playing well right now and just gotta keep that going,” Mika Zibanejad, who had two assists, said after the game.
Along with Zibanejad, a number of other Rangers had multi point nights. Ryan Reaves and Adam Fox each had two assists. Fox is tied with Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman for the league lead in assists by a defenseman with 22.
The Rangers fourth line (best in the NHL) of Barclay Goodrow (goal) Kevin Rooney (goal, assist) and Reaves (two assists) had a five point night.
Jacob Trouba had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, an assist and a fight.
A little over six minutes into the second period, Trouba delivered a tough, but clean hit on Black Hawks center Jujhar Khaira who went down hard and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. “There was no intent to hurt the guy,” coach Gerard Gallant said after the game. “He [Trouba] hit him square in the middle of the chest and then he [Khaira] banged his head pretty bad on the ice.”
Later in the period, Chicago’s Riley Stillman challenged Trouba but he shouldn’t have bothered as the Rangers defenseman handily won that challenge.
For a second consecutive game against the same opponent, Alexandar Georgiev was solid in net with 24 saves, while the Rangers special teams were extra special. Two for two with the man advantage and 4 for 4 on penalty kill.
The Rangers power play has come alive with goals in four straight games and six of their last seven with the man advantage. “We’re not going to score every game but at least give our team the momentum. When we score, it’s huge for us,” Zibanejad said. The Rangers alternate captain has not scored a goal in 13 straight games but he does have 10 assists and the team is winning.
The Rangers were the better team and it showed as they out shot the Black Hawks, 30-26, has a 39-29 advantage in hits and a 16-10 edge in blocked shots.
Fox had a team leading five blocks including one in the second period that Georgiev greatly appreciated. “The one I remember really well, Foxey in the second period, when they had the power play and he blocked that huge shot from [Patrick] Kane,” he said. “That’s winning hockey.”
Trouba’s fifth goal of the season at 61 seconds of the first period gave the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead. Ryan Strome and Panarin had the assists and it was the Bread Man’s 500th career point.
Panarin’s 1st career point came against the Rangers as a member of the Black Hawks in 2015 so it was fitting that he scores his milestone 500th point as a member of the Blueshirts against Chicago.
43 seconds later, the Black Hawks tied the game at one on an unassisted goal by Erik Gustafsson. Chicago’s Ryan Carpenter won a face off from Filip Chytil and the puck ended up on Gustafsson’s stick near the blue line where he was able to score.
Chicago took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission as 20-year old center Kirby Dach scored at 7:09 of the first period. Gallant saw his club start slow, but as has been their wont this season, the Rangers got stronger as the game went on. “We hung around in the game like we’ve done a few times this year and found a way to ply real good in the third,” the first year Ranger coach said after the game.
The Rangers tied the game at two at 3:19 of the second period as Panarin scored his first goal of the night on the power play. Kreider had the puck down low and passed to Zibanejad in the slot, but his shot attempt was blocked and the puck came right to Panarin who put it into the open net.
After Kreider scored his 17th goal of the season and his 10th on the power play at 4:59 for a 3-2 lead, Rooney scored his sixth of the season to cap off a terrific play that began when Reaves passed the puck from between his legs. The pass went cross ice to Fox on the right side, who fed Rooney in the slot and he beat Black Hawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who was screened by Goodrow, for a 4-2 lead.
Since blowing a couple of third period leads in early November, the Rangers have tightened up their defense with a late lead and have outscored the opposition in the third period, 30-23.
With a little over three minutes left, Chicago pulled their goaltender and Panarin cashed in on the empty net with his second goal of the game and 9th of the season for a three goal advantage.
Goodrow capped the scoring with his fourth of the season from in front with 1:19 remaining, off of a nice pass from Reaves.
It’s been a remarkable start for the Rangers who are 17-4-3. They have an impressive 9-3-2 road record and with 37 points, they trail first place Washington by two points with two games in hand.