Five games that have defined the New York Rangers season so far

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Oct 18, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates his overtime winning goal as forward Mika Zibanejad (93) and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) and forward Michael Bunting (58) look on at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have an excellent record of 19-7-4 for 42 points at the break. That places them third in the Metro Division and tied for third overall in the NHL standings.

Gerard Gallant has done a good job mixing in the new faces and identifying roles for players. When the team was struggling early on, he instilled enough confidence in the group to find ways to win.

Let’s look at five games so far this season that have defined the Blueshirts.

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Rangers 2 vs Maple Leafs 1 (OT), October 18, 2021

It was just the Rangers fourth game of the season and they entered the contest with a record of 1-1-1. However, it was Igor Shesterkin’s season defining game as he stole a win stoping 40 of 41 shots, including 8 against the Leafs amazing power play.

Artemi Panarin would score the team’s OT goal for the 2-1 victory.

“He was incredible tonight,” Gerard Gallant said. “He stole two points for us tonight.”

Rangers 3 vs Senators 2, October 23, 2021

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Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

While the Rangers were still defining themselves under Gerard Gallant a dramatic comeback would highlight their resiliency. Down 2-0 on the road against the Ottawa Senators, the Blueshirts scored three times in a span of 3:20 late in the third.

Chris Kreider started the comeback with a PP goal. Ryan Lindgren would tie the game on a slam dunk in front, and Barclay Goodrow deflected in the eventual winner.

“After the second period, we knew we weren’t playing the best,” said Goodrow. “We knew that we were going to have to string together a good 20 (minutes) to even have a chance to tie it up or come out with the win, so I felt like we really put our work boots on in the third period.”

Rangers 4 vs Panthers 3, November 8, 2021

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Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers at the time faced the undefeated Panthers at MSG after losing three in a row. Two games were blown third-period leads that turned into OT losses in Vancouver and Edmonton.

New York was outshot 45-18 but carried a 4-0 lead into the third period thanks to a power-play goal by Chris Kreider and a short-handed goal by Adam Fox in the first period and 4-on-4 goals by K’Andre Miller and Ryan Strome 30 seconds apart in the second. However, a late third-period surge by Florida almost cost them.

“No fun watching that,” head coach Gerard Gallant said. “You win a game against an undefeated team and you don’t feel good about that win. I’ll take the 2 points but it’s not the way you’ve got to play hockey.”

The Blueshirts started playing more complete games thereafter and tightened up defensively.

Rangers 5 vs Bruins 2, November 26, 2021

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers beat the Boston Bruins in the NHL’s Thanksgiving Showdown. Artemi Panarin scored the go-ahead goal with 8:25 to play the third period and added an assist to help lead the New York Rangers over Boston.

It was a big win over a team that dominated them last season. With that victory, the Rangers had 29 points (13-4-3) which was good for second overall in the NHL. They’ve stayed at the top of the league standings since.

“It’s a good feeling but it’s a group that’s not satisfied,” Strome said after the win. “The important thing for us is to continue to build. [Head coach Gerard Gallant] keeps up pretty honest, he pushed us at the end of the game on the bench. Night in and night out it’s going to take that the rest of the year.”

Rangers 1 vs Sharks 0, December 3, 2021

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Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev combined for 28 saves and the New York Rangers defeated the visiting San Jose Sharks 1-0.

Shesterkin made 19 saves before he left with an injury. Georgiev came on to save all nine shots he faced to complete the combined shutout. Ryan Strome scored the game’s only goal as the team proved they could overcome in game adversity big-time.

“I think we’ve grown a lot in the last year or two and we’re able to handle these things no matter who goes down,” Strome said. “We’ve had a ton of games where we’ve played with 11 forwards because guys get hurt or whatever. I think guys responded well on the bench, just tightened up and made sure we helped him out.”

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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

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