Devil of a Time, Rangers Extend Win Streak to 9 in a Row

AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie

The good times just keep on rolling for the Rangers.

Alexis Lafreniere scored two goals, Artemi Panarin had three assists and Igor Shesterkin nailed his fifth straight win as the Rangers stayed hot with their 9th straight win, a 5-1 dominant win over the New Jersey Devils in Newark last night.

The win streak is one short of the franchise record that was accomplished twice previously in the 1939-1940 and 1972-1973 seasons. The Rangers could tie the franchise mark of ten straight wins in Philadelphia on Saturday. During the streak, the Rangers have outscored the opponents by a 39-18 score.

Shesterkin made 39 saves (most of the stress-free variety) and has yielded only ten goals during his personal five game win streak.

The Rangers penalty kill was busy but they kept the Devils off the board with the man advantage. The Devils were 0 for 5 on the power play, a stretch that included a five minute major in the first period and a double minor in the second.

We must’ve killed close to a period, I don’t know 15, 17 mins, whatever it was, so the penalty kill was outstanding tonight,” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Shots from the outside, but suppressing a lot of things that might be dangerous into the interior against a real skilled group so I thought the penalty kill was a big difference in the game tonight.”

A tone was set less than two and half minutes into the game when 6’7” Matt Rempe, who was playing in his third NHL game, was assessed a match penalty, giving the Devils a five minute power play.

Devils RW Nathan Bastian was along the boards and had his head down when Rempe leveled him with a hard hit. Bastian went down and then tried to get up, but he immediately went down again as he was woozy.

Rempe hit him with his shoulder and did not leave his feet, but since he got Bastian’s head, he was assessed the match penalty which left the Rangers a man short for practically a full game. The hit will be reviewed by the NHL and Rempe could be facing a suspension.

That’s just a big man and everything is down. There’s nothing that’s up, never lifted his arm,” said Laviolette. “He was full steam ahead, and kept everything down.”

The penalty kill took over from there and they even generated a shorthanded breakaway chance but Chris Kreider hit the post. Less than two minutes after the five minute major was killed off, the Rangers got some momentum and scored the first goal of the game on the power play. “To have a big kill like that, it gets everyone going. It was good for our team,” said Lafreniere.

New Jersey’s Curtis Lazar was in the box for slashing and it took just five seconds into the power play for Zibanejad to score his 19th goal to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

Zibanejad had the puck in the left face off circle and tried to pass the puck but it hit Devils’ defenseman John Marino’s skate. The puck came right back to Zibanejad who beat Devils’ goaltender Nico Daws for the goal that was unassisted.

Obviously you don’t want to be put in a spot like that but it happens. Even though it’s a five minute five on four for them, we still have a lot to gain from it and we did,” Zibanejad said.

With a little over three minutes left in the first period, Lafreniere scored the first of his two goals to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead after one.

After a face off in the offensive zone, the puck was in the corner, but Jonny Brodzinski stole the puck from Luke Hughes and was able to flick a pass to Lafreniere who was open in front. The 22-year old fired it past Daws for his 15th goal of the season.

The Rangers were dominating all facets of the game and even Shesterkin got on the score sheet in the second period.

Shesterkin, who loves to handle the puck, had it behind his own net and fired it off the boards to Panarin as the Devils were in the midst of a change. Panarin took it in stride and broke in two on one and fed Chris Kreider who put it past a helpless Daws for a 3-0 lead. It was Shesterkin’s first assist of the season and third in his career.

A nifty passing play led to Lafreniere’s second goal of the game.

Vincent Trocheck took a pass from Panarin along the right wing boards and found Lafreniere, who split two Devils and beat Daws on the glove side for his 16th goal and a 4-0 lead. It also gave Lafreniere five goals during the win streak. Panarin, who had his 23rd multi point game of the season, has 15 points (3G, 12A) during the winning streak.

Sometimes, stats don’t always tell the story. The Rangers had a 4-0 lead after two, they were outplaying the Devils, yet were outshot 28-14. Part of that was because of the five minute major and a double minor assessed to Kappo Kakko late in the second period.

In the third period, Panarin’s third assist was a beautiful feed that capped off a two on one rush and led to Trocheck’s 20th goal of the season and a 5-0 lead.

Jack Hughes spoiled Shesterkin’s shutout bid with 2:07 remaining, capitalizing on Lafreniere, who had turned the puck over, and scored his 18th goal of the season.

The Rangers have cleaned up their act and more after going 5-7-2 during a putrid January and now have an NHL best 38 wins.

Next up, a date with the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday with a chance to tie the franchise record of ten straight wins.

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