Jaroslav Halak comes up big as Rangers bounce Knights 4-1 before break

jaroslav halak new york rangers
Jan 27, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) collides with goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) attempting to stop a shot on goal in the first period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves as the host New York Rangers recorded a 4-1 victory over the slumping Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.

Halak helped the Rangers head into the All-Star break on a positive note by making timely saves all game. He won for the sixth time in seven starts and improved to 6-0-0 all-time against the Golden Knights. The 37 year-old veteran started the season 1-6-1.

“Every time you join a new team, maybe you try too much and somehow you’re squeezing the stick a little more,” Halak said via NHL.com. “I guess when my record wasn’t the best, I told myself, ‘Don’t worry about those games, turn the page and keep moving forward.’ That’s what I wanted.”

Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck scored in the final three minutes of the first period, and Filip Chytil tallied in the third after scoring New York’s goals in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Toronto. Jimmy Vesey capped it with an empty net goal with 84 seconds left.

Kreider appeared in his 700th game, all with the Rangers, and also reached 20 goals for the sixth time in his career.

The Rangers head into their break on a 16-4-3 streak since Dec. 3, where captain Jacob Trouba tossed his helmet in an embarrassing home loss to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks.

Jaroslav Halak comes up big for Rangers

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Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Halak highlighted his win by going from post to post and making a diving glove stop on Keegan Kolesar when he dove into the crease with 7:52 left in the third. He then made a diving stick save on Chandler Stephenson in the opening minutes of the third.

The Rangers opened a two-goal lead by scoring in a span of 3:09 late in the first.

After Vegas forward Paul Cotter lost the puck along the right boards, Trocheck gained possession and made a slick move to get close. Trocheck passed to Kreider, who re-directed the puck into the net with his left skate.

The Rangers opened a 2-0 lead when Goodrow retrieved a loose puck after his initial shot was stopped. He moved to the right side of the net and as Trocheck cut to the net, he lifted a shot over Hill for his 14th goal.

Vegas made it a one-goal game 4:57 into the second when Kessel banked a puck in off Halak from the red line for his 408th career goal.

New York regained a two-goal lead when Chytil’s backhanded pass intended for Alexis Lafreniere banked off Vegas defenseman’s Shea Theodore’s skate into a vacated net with 5:40 remaining.

The Rangers put a cherry on top of the win with a big defensive play late from Braden Schneider, who got the puck to Jimmy Vesey for a long empty net goal.

“We really turned it around and a big credit to everyone in here,” Mika Zibanejad said. “We believed in this group. We believed in each other. We knew what we had to do. We weren’t happy the way we were playing the first 25 games or so, but everyone was just trying to get back to what we did well last year, trying to understand to do the simple things, the little details that really matter.”

–Field Level Media

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