Gutsy Rangers beat Kings; K’Andre Miller faces suspension

New York Rangers Mika Zibanejad
Feb 26, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) is greeted by left wing Artemi Panarin (10) after scoring a goal in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) with a gutsy performance under strange circumstances against the Los Angeles Kings earning a 5-2 victory.

Prior to the game, defenseman Ryan Lindgren was ruled out with a shoulder injury and the team planned to not play defenseman Braden Schneider and forward Ryan Carpenter. The Blueshirts intend to send both players down to fit in Patrick Kane by Wednesday, which you can’t do if a player is injured.

The Rangers announced that Schneider assigned to Hartford after the game (paper transaction). Carpenter will go down once Kane trade announced.

K’Andre Miller faces suspension

As the team played with just five defenders, K’Andre Miller was given a match penalty with less than five minutes left to play in the first period for spitting at Drew Doughty. This forced the Rangers to play with just four defensemen for the rest of the game.

“I said before the game to the guys back in your minor hockey days everybody loved playing every second or third shift and the defense rolled,” Gerard Gallant said. “You get into the game that way. Fortunately for us we got away with it. The guys played one of their better games in a long time… I thought our team was excellent tonight.”

K’Andre Miller’s match penalty automatically comes with a hearing so he may be suspended. Per multiple reports, Miller said it was unintentional and reconciled with Doughty after the game.

“The kid feels bad about it and said it was an accident,”Gallant explained. “I didn’t see it, but he didn’t deny it.”

If Miller is suspended, the Rangers can call up a defenseman for Wednesday game, but likely push Kane trade to Thursday.

Rangers beat Kings with gutsy performance

new york rangers mika zibanejad
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Alexis Lafreniere opened the scoring for the Blueshirts in what felt like the first time in ages. After Filip Chytil made a strong play in the offensive zone, Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko played catch before beating a downed Jonathan Quick 14 minutes into the match.

Miller’s match penalty taken at the end of the first bled into the second. Soon after killing it off, Vincent Trocheck’s pass attempt deflected in for a 2-0 lead.

Trocheck then added his 19th of the season just 95 seconds later as his shot from the slot was slightly tipped by a Kings defender. The goal chased Quick from the net replaced by Pheonix Copley.

Viktor Arvidsson scored a questionable power-play goal when it appeared his stick was above the crossbar. However a quick review let the it stand to make it 3-1.

Of course, hearts dropped when Mika Zibanejad took a serious Doughty slap shot off the ankle that dropped him like a ton of bricks leaving his coach sick. He needed to be helped off the ice but was able to return for the third period to cheers of “Mika! Mika!”

“It’s obviously cool hearing the chants,” Zibanejad admitted. “Special fans, special building, and a special organization. I appreciate it…give you an extra boost for sure.”

The Kings would make things uncomfortable just 1:27 into the final frame when Matt Roy beat Igor Shesterkin after a bad defensive play by Artemi Panarin.

However, Gallant kept him out there after the tally and watched him restore the two goal lead just 44 seconds later. On the play, Panarin simply stuck with it and scored on a rebound.

If fans loved seeing Mika return after a huge shot block, they lost it when he scored a power play goal with his patented one-timer at the 5:26 mark.

From there, the Rangers kept things simple and battened down the hatches on defense. Shesterkin finished the game with 26 saves and looked like his old self in the process.

“We talked about it as a team, at least as a d-core to keep it simple,” Fox said about rotating 4 d-men. “It almost made our jobs easier letting the forwards play that side of the puck and we focused on defense.”

New York’s next game Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers on the road. Patrick Kane is expected to be on the team by then.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore