After being stunned by the St. Louis Blues with a three goal barrage within a 2:14 span late in the second period, the Rangers’ 2-0 lead was suddenly a 3-2 deficit after two.
Past Ranger teams would’ve shriveled up and gone away, but not this Ranger team that rose to the challenge against a real good Blues team.
The Rangers scored three times in the third period as they scored a 5-3 win over the Blues at Madison Square Garden last night to snap a mild two game losing streak. It was the 18th time that the Rangers have come behind to win a game this season.
“Every game we have to give 100% but when those statistics come out that you start losing 3-0 in a certain period of time, the team gets steeled to go out there and get those important two points that we need,” Artemi Panarin said through an interpreter after the game.
The Rangers improved to 34-15-5 and are 5-1-1 in their last seven home games.
Panarin (1G, 2A) and Adam Fox (3A, leads all NHL defenseman with 46) had three point nights while the Rangers avoided their first three game losing streak of the season in regulation.
Igor Shesterkin was as stunned as anybody after St. Louis had zoomed to a 3-2 lead, but he regained his composure and stopped all 13 shots he faced in the final twenty minutes.
The Rangers seemed to be in control as they had a 2-0 lead with the second period winding down, but the Blues scored on their next three shots. Ryan O’Reilly’s goal at 17:30, made it a 2-1 game. Ivan Barbashev scored 1:07 later to tie the game and David Perron beat Shesterkin with 16 seconds left in the period to send the Rangers back to the dressing room amidst a chorus of boos from the Garden faithful.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that Ranger dressing room between the second and third period because coach Gerard Gallant said something that got them out of their late, second period slumber. What was said and what tone was used did not matter because it worked. “We were a bit disappointed, but, honestly the coach said the right motivational words. We came out and we put out after that,” Panarin said through an interpreter after the game.
The Rangers were a totally different team in the third period, than they had been the first two periods.
The newest father, Patrik Nemeth tied the game with his first goal of the season and his first as a Ranger at 7:27. Nemeth blasted a one timer past Blues goaltender Ville Husso to make it a 3-3 game.
After the Blues’ Colton Parayko took a delay of game penalty, the Rangers cashed in the man advantage when Chris Kreider tipped in Fox’s shot for his 35th goal of the season and a 4-3 lead. It was Kreider’s league leading 15th tip in goal.
The play may not have happened if not for coach Gerard Gallant. With less than a minute left with the extra man, and a face off in the offensive zone, Gallant took a time out so he could keep the first power play unit on the ice and it paid off.
With about two minutes remaining, the Blues pulled Husso to get the extra skater on the ice but Panarin found the empty net for his 15th goal of the season to round out the scoring.
Alexis LaFreniere, who is improving with every game, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with his 13th of the season. The 20-year old, who is in his second year, scored his fifth goal in the last nine games and is impressing his teammates.
“He’s really focused on the little things, he really cares about improving his game and growing as a player,” said Kreider. “He’s getting to the net a lot and he’s scoring some pretty ones.”
Ryan Strome gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead at 16:36 of the second period with his 12th goal of the season but less than a minute later, St. Louis began to take charge with the first of their three goals.
A look at the score sheet showed the Blues had a 2-1 advantage in face offs (34-17) but the Rangers blocked 23 shots to five for St. Louis.
Pavel Buchnevich faced his old team for the first time and was kept off the score sheet, although he had some prime scoring chances, including a breakaway that was denied by Shesterkin. “It’s always weird, especially first time when you’ve played with a guy for a long time and seeing him in another jersey,” Kreider said