Smashville: Rangers Embarrass Predators in Garden Party

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

The objective of any hockey team is to score more goals than the other team. The Rangers took that objective to another new level.

In a record setting performance, the Rangers thoroughly dominated the Nashville Predators enroute to a 7-0 whitewashing for their fourth win in a row. The Rangers extended their point scoring streak to seven games (6-0-1) and have won 10 of their last 12 at the Garden.

It’s been quite a turnaround for a team that was struggling in early December. In their first 26 games, the Rangers had 10 losses in regulation. In their last 44 games, they’ve had 9 regulation losses.

Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for his first shutout of the season. It was the Rangers second consecutive shutout but it was the offense that was the headliner. The Rangers back up goaltender had to enjoy a goalie-eyes view of the offensive show. “It was a team effort tonight, you know we really played well. Even though we had a big lead, they were blocking shots. They played like it was a tighter game,” he said.

The Rangers set a franchise record by scoring five times in the first 10:01 of the first period while tying the franchise record for the most goals in the first period with six.

K’Andre Miller set a franchise record for defenseman for a single period with four points in the first (2G, 2A). Miller was one of four Rangers with multi-point games. Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists, while Vincent Trocheck and Jacob Trouba each had two assists.

This was Miller’s best game since he returned from suspension. In recent games, the 23-year old seemed to be tentative and lacking confidence but that was not the case in a game that appeared to rejuvenate him.

What was most impressive about this win was the Rangers never took their foot off the gas. “Nobody wants to run the score up on a team, they had a lot of young defenseman out there tonight but you still gotta play the game hard and do the right things and I thought the guys did a perfect job of it,” Coach Gerard Gallant said.

It was a remarkable display of the skill that the Rangers have on their current roster. You can make the argument that this current Ranger team has more skill than their 1994 Cup winning squad.

The Rangers have gotten off to strong starts in their last four games but to say they came out flying is an understatement.

Filip Chytil snapped an 18 game goal-less streak as he scored his 20th of the season a little over two and a half minutes into the game to start the barrage.

Mika Zibanejad scored his 37th at 7:22 for a 2-0 lead and that began a stretch where the Rangers scored four times within a two minute, 39 second span. Tyler Motte, Miller (his first of the game), and Panarin found the back of the net at 10:01 of the first period for a jaw dropping 5-0 lead. Miller scored his second goal of the game and the period at 13:36 to cap off his historic 20 minute stanza.

The strong starts have helped the Rangers play with the lead, instead of playing from behind. “Just playing simple, playing how we know we can play from the drop of the puck,” Miller said. “We’re getting in on their defenseman, getting pucks behind them, just playing our zones well and just playing on the safe side.”

Having a 6-0 lead after one period is nice, but the Rangers still had 40 minutes to play before they could cash in the guaranteed two points. “Just try to keep playing, create good habits and not put ourselves in a bad spot. Try to keep playing the same way, obviously we don’t think we’re gonna score another six in the second, just in general, a really good weekend, a really good game today and yesterday,” Zibanejad said.

Chris Kreider completed the scoring in the second period with his 32nd of the season as the Rangers capped the weekend with a 13-0 cumulative score. They’ve also scored 15 unanswered goals, spanning their last three games, something that the team hasn’t been done in 50 years. It’s a good thing the Ranger goal song is digital because it got worn out the past two nights.

The game was so pleasantly one sided as far as the fans were concerned, that there were a few more “Potvin sucks” chants. Usually, there are one or two a game these days, but it was more like five or six, with most of those coming in the second period.

The Rangers treated their fans to an impressive display of their offensive firepower, but their overall game (defense, special teams) has improved as well. “It’s really coming together the last couple of games,” Gallant said. “What I liked about tonight a lot more than the other night is we didn’t give up a lot of scoring chances.”

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