Rangers are finding ways to win but they know they can play better.
Rangers held off the floundering Vancouver Canucks, 4-3, at the Garden last night for their third win in a row. They are 18-4-3 in their last 25 games after a tough start to the season, but they know they need to lift their game if they hope to make a deep run in the post season.
“It’s nice to be able to win a couple of games when you don’t have your “A” game but it’s not the recipe for success for us,” Jacob Trouba said after the game. “Be better and work on it.”
The Rangers stayed ahead of the Canucks throughout the game, but they let them hang around, instead of laying the hammer down on a struggling team and it nearly cost them in the final minutes.
11 seconds after Mika Zibanejad’s 25th goal gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead with less than four minutes left in the third period, the Canucks answered right back to make it a one goal game for the third time.
After the face off at center ice, the Rangers thought Vancouver iced the puck. Elias Petterson thought otherwise and beat three Rangers to the puck that had bounced off the boards and back towards the the net. Petterson squeezed the puck past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin on the short side with 3:44 remaining to make it 4-3.
The Garden was stunned and so was Coach Gerard Gallant. “I was looking up for an icing, the next thing I know, their guy raced to it, somehow got into the short side,” Gallant said.
Canucks pulled goaltender Spencer Martin and Zibanejad nearly had his second goal of the game but the puck went just wide of the net, however the Rangers held on for a big two points.
K’Andre Miller had three assists for the first three point game of his career as his offensive game continues to develop. “Puck found me tonight. Guys made some great plays off a breakout pass, maybe a first pass so credit to them, Miller said.”
Filip Chytil stayed hot. The young star scored to extend his goal scoring streak to five straight games (7 goals in five games) and he has 14 points in his last 13 games.
Igor Shesterkin made 22 saves including some big ones in the third period to keep the Canucks at bay.
The Rangers started fast and took a 1-0 lead on Chris Kreider’s 21st goal of the season. Vincent Trocheck broke in with Kreider on a two on one. Trocheck made like he was going to shoot the puck, but he made a pretty feed to Kreider who only had to tap it into the open net.
Chytil’s 19th goal of the season gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Chytil picked up a loose puck, skated in front of the Canucks net and back handed the puck past Martin.
The Rangers looked like they were going to blow the Canucks out of the building but Vancouver’s Conor Garland scored with less than three minutes left to make it a 2-1 game after one.
“I thought we played great hockey,” Gallant said. “It was 2-0, we were playing real good hockey and then all of a sudden, we change our game a little bit and started to turn the pucks over in the neutral zone.”
Alexis Lafreniere is starting to get results as he scored for a second straight game to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the second period. Lafreniere has at least a point in five of his last six games. Vancouver’s Vasily Podkolzin scored his first goal of the season to make it 3-2 after two.
The “Kid line” of Chytil, Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko (assisted on Lafreniere’s goal, 7 assists in last seven games) had another solid game and was the Rangers’ best line on the ice.
The Rangers are in a dogfight in the Metropolitan Division. They currently sit in third place, four points behind the second place New Jersey Devils and six points ahead of fourth place Washington, and the Rangers have two games in hand. “We’re in a pretty tight race, it’s gonna probably be tighter as we go on, Trouba said. “Just want to keep building, finish the homestand strong.”
The Rangers will finish the homestand Friday night against the Seattle Kraken before a four game road trip that takes them to Carolina and Western Canada.