The Rangers take exception to losing and they’ve usually taken out their frustrations in the following game. Last night at Madison Square Garden was no different.
In what has become a recurring theme this season, the Rangers rebounded from their latest loss as they scored two third period goals within a minute and ten second span enroute to a 4-1 win over the Chicago Black Hawks.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, Vincent Trocheck had three assists and the Rangers second line accounted for six points in the win. Igor Shesterkin made 22 saves and won for the sixth time in his last seven games.
The Rangers were still smarting from their embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night, as they welcomed the #1 overall pick, Connor Bedard, to the Garden for the first time.
Top prospect Brennan Othmann, the Rangers’ first round pick and 16th overall in the 2021 draft, made his NHL debut in place of the injured Tyler Pitlick and acquitted himself very well with a team leading five shots on goal.
Othmann had some chances including a tip in attempt and a wrist shot on the same shift that were both stopped by Black Hawks goaltender Peter Mrazek. “His speed and his skill, his ability to create. Probably had at least a half a dozen attempts at the net and some scoring chances,” Coach Peter Laviolette said.
The 21-year old (who will be 22 today) Othmann skated on a line with Nick Bonino and Jonny Brodzinski. “I was a little bit nervous my first couple of shifts but Jonny [Brodzinski] and Bonesy [Bonino] did a great job calming [me] down,” said Othmann, who had family and friends in the stands.
In the third period, Othmann was double shifted and skated with the top line of Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad when Blake Wheeler took a five minute penalty for fighting Chicago’s Jarred Tinordi, after he was decked by the Black Hawks defenseman. “Just wanted him to get some more ice [time],” Laviolette said.
Bedard gave a glimpse of the remarkable skill he possesses but he also had a welcome to the NHL moment that led to the Rangers’ first goal of the game at the 13:00 minute mark.
The 18-year old was near the Ranger blue line and tried to make a move but he was checked off the puck by Trocheck who fed Alexis Lafreniere on the right side. Lafreniere fired cross ice to Panarin in the left faceoff circle where the Rangers leading goal scorer one timed it past Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek for his 24th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Lafreniere and Trocheck had the assists as the Rangers took that lead into the first intermission.
Kreider’s 20th goal of the season on the power play at 7:25 of the second period made it 2-0.
Trocheck took a nice pass from Zibanejad and nearly scored on a deflection. There was a scramble in front for the loose puck. Kreider stormed the net and had the puck deflect off of his skate. After a brief review to see if Kreider kicked the puck in, the officials ruled it a good goal. It was the 9th time the longest tenured Ranger has scored at least 20 goals in a season.
The Black Hawks (11-25-2) cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal by Colin Blackwell. The former Ranger got in behind the defense and deked Shesterkin before he put it in the net at 17:03 of the second period.
Seven seconds later, K’Andre Miller was called for tripping, putting Chicago on the power play, but the Rangers came up with a big penalty kill and led 2-1 after two.
The Rangers were 15-2-1 when they led after two coming into last night’s game so it was just a matter of taking care of business against a team that’s in a rebuilding mode.
“I think we were playing really well in the first and second and we wanted to make sure we were playing the right way coming out [for the third],” said Trocheck, “the same exact way we did in the first two periods, in the third. I thought we did a good job.”
Early in the third, the Rangers second line was responsible for Jacob Trouba’s third goal of the season that make it a 3-1 game.
Trocheck fed Panarin in the slot and he backhanded a pass that bounced off the boards. Trouba played the carom with a shot towards the net. Mrazek went down and the puck went just above his shoulder into the net just 1:31 into the third period.
70 seconds later, Jimmy Vesey made it a three goal lead that demoralized the Black Hawks.
Will Cuylle skated in on right wing and threw a cross ice pass to an open Vesey who one timed it past Mrazek on the short side for his 8th goal of the season and a 4-1 lead at 2:41 of the third period.
Even though he didn’t record a point, Othmann felt good about his initial foray into the NHL. “Just exciting to be able to play my first NHL game, you work 20 years for this. Good early birthday present [today], to be able to get two points is definitely good,” he said.