It was “deja vu all over again” as the Rangers extended their winning streak to six straight games after they beat the Vancouver Canucks, 6-4 at Rogers Arena last night. It was the first win in Vancouver since 2018.
The game was eerily similar to last week’s game at the Garden when the Rangers couldn’t protect a number of two goal leads and allowed the Canucks to hang around.
The red hot Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad each had two goals and an assist and Igor Shesterkin made 25 saves for his 24th win of the season. Canucks’ goaltender Arturs Slivos stopped 22 of 27 shots in his NHL debut as he was up against a Rangers’ team whose offense rolled to a third straight game with six goals.
The offense is clicking with 31 goals during the win streak but they weren’t happy with their defensive effort, particularly when they were protecting a third period lead.
The Rangers took a 5-3 lead into the final 20 minutes, but a goal by the Canucks Andrei Kuzmenko with a little over 11 minutes left made it a one goal game that brought back reminders of last week. “We get six goals, it’s great, but we can’t be giving up four goals with some of the chances we gave up,” Coach Gerard Gallant said after the game.
From that point on, the Rangers were on their heels but, like in New York, they were able to hang on. “We keep talking about doing the right things, we know we can score,” Zibanejad said. “Just gotta make sure we make the right decisions, that we don’t try to sacrifice the defensive part.”
With a little less than three minutes left, Shesterkin made a glove save on a shot by Tyler Myers to preserve the lead and stop play. Vancouver pulled the goalie and Zibanejad scored his second of the game into the empty net to put the game away. Panarin and Shesterkin had the assists on the goal.
The teams combined for five goals in a wild first period with the Rangers holding a 3-2 lead after one.
Vancouver’s Curtis Lazar was credited with a goal off a scramble in front to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 4:52 of the first period. The goal came a few moments after Dakota Joshua was leveled with a patented, big hit by Jacob Trouba. It was Joshua who got the primary assist on the goal.
59 seconds later, Mika Zibanejad tied it with 28th goal of the season. The Rangers center broke in on net, faked the initial shot and got Silovs to open his legs and he put it five hole to tie the game at one.
“I got some pretty good speed coming down, try to freeze him,” Zibanejad said. “Just tried to pump fake him and see what he gives me. I’ve done that a couple of times before. I don’t know if he [Slivos] bit on the pump fake, saw an opening between his legs there and tried to put it five hole.”
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead just 72 seconds later. Jimmy Vesey moved into the offensive zone and found the red hot Panarin on the left side. The “Bread Man” fired it in the net for his 17th goal of the season, fifth in the last two games.
Like last week’s game in New York, Vancouver would not go away as former Ranger J.T. Miller scored on a one timer on the power play to tie the game at two with over seven minutes left, but Panarin scored his second of the game and 18th of the season to give the Rangers a 3-2 after one.
We got a lot of guys that can make a difference in games,” Vesey said. “Right now, seems like ‘Bread’ is on fire.”
Defenseman Miko Mikkola shot the puck and Panarin was able to deflect it past Silovs to make it six goals in his last two periods of play, (tying a franchise record for goals in two games) following an eight game goal scoring drought. Mikkola (first point as a Ranger) and Braden Schneider had the assists.
The Rangers were buzzing early in the second and took a 4-2 lead just 50 seconds in.
Chris Kreider capped off a pretty passing play with his 22nd goal (251st career) and moved past Mark Messier for sole possession of seventh place on the franchise’s all time goal scoring list. Kreider also extended his point scoring streak to six games. Zibanejad found a wide open Kreider on the right side and he was able to bury the puck to give the Rangers a two goal lead.
Canucks capitalized on the power play for a second time to cut the Rangers lead to 4-3. It wasn’t officially a power play goal, but having the man advantage led to the score.
After the Rangers failed to clear the puck a final time on the penalty kill, Canucks left wing Andrei Kuzmenko made a move to get past Adam Fox and skated in front. Shesterkin made the initial save, but Conor Garland was able to score on the back hand to make it a one goal game.
K’Andre Miller took a pass from Trouba in the slot and fired the puck past Silovs for a 5-3 lead. Trouba, who was not credited with an assist, took a loose puck along the right wing boards, skated into the middle of the ice and appeared to pass the puck to Miller who scored his sixth goal of the season at 13:28 and the Rangers had a two goal lead after two.
The Rangers are the hottest team in the league with six wins in a row. The Blueshirts are 8-1-1 in their last 10 and 21-4-3 in their last 28 games.
With 72 points, the Rangers trail the second place New Jersey Devils by three points and first place Carolina by six points. It’s getting close to crunch time in the NHL season, something that Gallant is well aware of. “Points are important every game but this time of the season, they get more important,” he said.