Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp making a difference for New York Rangers
The New York Rangers were patient in addressing holes in their lineup. Both Frankie Vatrano and Andrew Copp have been difference makers since arriving which was highlighted in last night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
It was the perfect trap coming off a dominant performance on Friday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. They even jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to the speed and shot of Vatrano scoring twice in just 18 seconds.
“It was one of those games where we came out great but then we just fell off,” Gerard Gallant said. “We found a way I guess.”
The Blueshirts indeed found a way and it was Andrew Copp, who assisted on the tying goal by Artemi Panarin late in the third. He then set up the game winning tally by K’Andre Miller with Alexis Lafrenière to pick up the much needed extra point to keep pace with the Penguins for second place in the Metro Division.
Frankie Vatrano can play on any line
Vatrano gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 3:59 of the first period, scoring from the top of the right circle off a 2-on-1.
He doubled the advantage just 18 seconds later, skating in alone on Anderson after picking off Sabres center Tage Thompson’s pass attempt. The quick strikes are the fastest two goals by a Rangers player since Jaromir Jagr tallied twice in 15 seconds on Nov. 12, 2005.
“You see how he can shoot a puck and he can change a game with his speed,” Adam Fox said to MSG’s John Giannone. “He’s obviously a really good player and he’s helped us out so far.”
Vatrano, 28, has four goals in 6 games with the Rangers since his acquisition. He’s played on all three of the top lines and looks like a nice fit with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.
“We got off to a great start,” Vatrano said via the team’s YouTube channel. “For us it’s just using our speed and keeping things simple. I think every game we’re getting better and we can build on this.”
The speedy winger plays with grit and is tenacious on the puck. Combined with Kreider and Zibanejad, who are both fast in their own right, it’s keeping the opposition on their heels in order to respect how quickly they can come at you.
“My whole career I’ve been up and down the lineup,” Vatrano said. “Even playing in the top six you can’t change your game.”
This is a line that Gerard Gallant may find hard to breakup when Kaapo Kakko returns.
Andrew Copp is Mr. Versatility
Artemi Panarin put the Rangers back in front 4-3 at 3:52 of the third period. Anderson made a pad save on a point shot by Jacob Trouba and the rebound bounced to Panarin at the bottom of the right circle. The play was started by Andrew Copp, who found a loose puck off the draw.
In OT, K’Andre Miller broke up a home run pass at his blue-line to send the play down the other way. Copp and Lafrenière played catch with the puck before Miller came streaking down the middle late. Once he got on his stick, Miller went top shelf over Anderson for the win.
“I’m a center that can play winger,” Copp said on the MSG postgame. “But today I was a better at wing than I was at center. When you have something that’s working, don’t break that up.”
Copp, 27, has registered a point in every game he’s played so far since the trade on deadline day. In three games, he has 1 goal and 4 assists, for 5 points. He’s actually on a four-game point streak as he notched 3 assists in his last game with the Jets.
His versatility has been on full display and was one of the main reasons why the Rangers targeted him for acquisition. He’s won key draws and making his teammates around him better.
Gerard Gallant will likely keep him on the second line for the remainder of the season.
Recap all the action Sunday including the Rangers OT win over the Sabres. Plus the Penguins dropped 11 on the Red Wings, the Jets stay alive, and more.