Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider dominate as Rangers defeat the Maple Leafs
In their fourth game in six days since returning from the All star break, the Rangers faced off in an original six match up against Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Girls and Women in Sports Night at MSG.
It was John Tavares who opened the scoring with a goal at 7:36 in the first period with help from Jake Muzzin, who got away with holding the stick of Brady Skjei that let the play develop. Shesterkin made a great first save on a shot by Nylander, but Tavares was left all alone on the ice to notch in the rebound for his 20th goal of the season.
Here Come the Rangers
It would be all Rangers from then on. Filip Chytil made it 1-1 at 8:50 in the first period for his 12th goal of the season off a beautiful feed from DeAngelo. With his 41st point of the season, Tony D moved into fifth place on the NHL’s list of defenseman scoring leaders.
The duo of Kreider and Zibanejad took over the period with back to back goals in a span of six seconds to put the Rangers ahead 3-1 in the first period. First it was Kreider taking a page from his time at the All star game, winning the face off cleanly and Zibanejad cashing in with a wrist shot right over the catching glove of Hutchinson. Seconds later, Mika returned the favor by winning the face-off at center ice and getting the puck to Buchnevich, who threw a pass in to Kreider for his 19th goal of the season. The Rangers are now tied for seventh in the league with 9 goals off face offs this season.
The Rangers were able to hold off the dangerous offense of the Leafs for most of the second period, allowing no shots on goal in the Leaf’s first power play of the game led by the stellar defense of Jesper Fast. Heading into tonight’s game, the Leafs rank third for most goals of any team in the NHL in the second period. With the team’s 69th second-period goal of the season, Auston Matthews cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 with just over three minutes left on just the eleventh Leafs shot of the period. It only took 34 seconds for the Rangers to answer back with a goal by Pavel Buchnevich, who now has 4 goals in his last 5 games after a long struggle to find the back of the net this season.
The Rangers weathered several fleeting storms by the Leafs in the third period, but the Leafs showed why they own the fifth ranked power play in the league, as Matthews scored his second goal of the game to cut into the Rangers lead yet again with just over three minutes left in the third period. With his 39th goal of the season, Matthews is now just one goal behind Ovechkin for most in the league.
However the Leafs fell short in their comeback endeavor, as McKegg notched an empty netter assisted by Buchnevich, who recorded his third point of the game to solidify a 5-3 win for the Blueshirts.
To the well-deserved tune of I-GOR chants from the Garden faithful, Igor Shesterkin improved his NHL record to 4-1, making 27 saves on 30 shots.
The Zibanejad line dominated in tonight’s win, notching 7 points and rightfully sweeping all three spots in the Mercedes Benz Stars of the Game.