There are just two words to describe the Rangers’ 7-3 win in Minnesota last night. Wild (of course) and impressive.
The Rangers are 2-0 after beating the Minnesota Wild as they put on an impressive display of hockey skill.
Six different Rangers scored goals with Chris Kreider getting his first two of the season. Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists and don’t forget about Igor Shesterkin who was brilliant in making 33 saves and winning his second straight game.
Despite a few defensive lapses in a wide open third period, the Rangers pretty much dominated a real good team in their first road game of the young season.
The Rangers were flying from the moment they hit the ice in the first period and took a 1-0 lead on Kreider’s first power play goal of the season at 4:06. The goal was the result of a pretty “tic-tac-toe” play that was set up by cross ice passes from Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
“Being able to get that first goal, that was pretty big,” Kreider said. “That play by Artie [Panarin] and Mika [Zibanejad] and all those guys was ridiculous on the power play to get us up 1-0.”
Panarin assisted on Adam Fox’s first goal of the season for a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes left. The Rangers winger capped off a three goal first period by scoring his first of the season after a beautiful feed from Alexis LaFreniere, who also had two assists in the game, a career high.
LaFreniere is playing right wing on a line with Panarin and Vincent Trocheck (goal and an assist) and they clicked for an eight point night. “Obviously, I play with two really good players so try to get open when they have the puck and try to find them when I do, simple,” he said.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was sharp and he had to be as he stopped 15 Wild shots in the first period. “What was it, 3-0, probably should’ve been three-three,” Head Coach Gerard Gallant said. “We took advantage of our opportunities, obviously scored some nice goals but Igor had to make some real key saves.”
The Wild was playing their first game of the season and took advantage of a power play opportunity to try and get back in the game in the second period. With Zac Jones in the box for hooking, former Ranger Mats Zuccarrello scored to cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-1.
Less than a minute after Minnesota scored, Fox was called for tripping and the Wild went back on the power play. Things got worse as Kreider was called for high sticking and the Wild had the momentum and a 5 on 3 advantage for a minute and 22 seconds.
Minnesota’s Joel Eriksson Ek appeared to slash Shersterkin’s glove hand after he froze the puck and was prone on the ice. Kreider took exception to that and was called for the infraction.
The Rangers tighened up defensively and were able to kill off the two man advantage. Shesterkin made five saves during that time and kept Minnesota from narrowing the gap.
The Rangers used the successful PK to get back some momentum and Filip Chytil picked up where he left off in last year’s playoffs. Chytil was positioned by the net to cash in on Fox’s shot as he scored his first of the season with less than four minutes in the second period to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead after two.
The third period was wide open as the team combined for five goals.
Trocheck scored his first goal as a Ranger at 4:18 of the third for a 5-1 lead but Minnesota’s Matt Boldy beat Shesterkin less than a minute later to make it 5-2.
30 seconds later, Kappo Kakko scored a jaw dropping, highlight video goal.
Kakko took possession of the puck in the right corner and skated behind the net as he was being checked by Eriksson Ek (who was a pain in the “Ek”).
The 21-year old Ranger winger kept going until he got all the way around the Wild defense and carried the puck in front of the net where he was able to beat Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for his first goal of the season and a 6-2 lead. Fleury gave up seven goals on 35 shots.
Kreider was on the ice and had a good view of the goal. “That was a ridiculous goal. We talked about them playing man to man, they’re a pretty good man to man team but to have that kind of strength and touch and composure, that was super impressive,” said the Rangers longest tenured player.
Boldy scored his second of the game for the Wild to cap off a four goal outburst by both teams in 2:02 but Kreider scored his second goal of the game to 14:07 to complete the scoring.
Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller had a good game (assist, +4) playing in his hometown and had a contingent of 50 people, family and friends, in the stands.
Miller took a hit from Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno and was in some discomfort on the bench. Ryan Reaves did not let Foligno forget about the hit as he dropped the gloves and challenged the 6’3” Minnesota winger. Reaves got in some pretty good shots during their confrontation.
Rangers are 2-0 and will look for their third straight win tonight when they complete a two game road trip in Winnipeg.