March 21, 2021

Mika Zibanejad revival continues with spectacular will to win goal for Rangers over Capitals

Mar 20, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates with teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Washington Capitals late in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The set up was there for a repeat of the game on Friday night. The Rangers were heading into the third period up 1-0 and waiting for the Capitals late push. John Carlson scored the tying goal as it looked like the Capitals were set to win their 8th straight, but the Rangers flipped the script by first holding off the surge.

Rangers vs Capitals: Determined Zibanejad lifts team to victory

rangers vs capitals
Mar 20, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates after scoring the go ahead goal on Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov (30) late in the third period in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mika Zibanejad who has roared back to life, stole the puck from Brenden Dillon late in the third and rifled it over Ilya Samsonov with 2:32 left on the clock. He would finish the contest with a two points (1G,1A). The Blueshirts added an empty-netter and won it by a 3-1 final. This win puts the Rangers back to .500 and 6 points out of 4th place which is held by the Bruins. Boston is idle due to COVID protocols.

“I was basically just chasing [Dillon] and tried to stay on him,” said Zibanejad, who also had an assist. “Got a push. I don’t know if he caught a rut or something. He fell, and I was able to get the puck. Tried to get it on net and it went in, so it was nice.”

NHL.com

For Zibanejad his play in the last three games is a stark contrast to his previous 27. It’s not just about the 8 points (4G, 4A) he’s accumulated, but more about the confidence in his skating strides, the crispness of his passes, and the sharpness of his shot. The fact is last night’s game-winning goal was a perfect snap over the left shoulder of Ilya Samsonov. Just a week ago, that chance would’ve went wide over the net by three feet.

“I can talk about Mika’s effort on a lot of plays,” fill in coach Kris Knoblauch said of Mika’s importance to the win. “On the goal – at the end of shift he was able to strip the puck and make a skill play on the shot. Also later in the game there was one – maybe two key blocked shots.”

Rangers Radar: Other notable observations

Pavel Buchnevich opened the scoring off a tremendous feed from Adam Fox. The goal came late in the first as Zibanejad won a big offensive zone draw back to Fox. New York’s top defenseman streaked down from the point and made a picture feed cross slot to Buchnevich who buried his 11th goal of the season. Buchnevich also picked up an assist for a team leading 28 points in 29 games. He also has points in 8 of his last 10 games with 6 goals and 15 points in that span.

Related: Is Buchnevich playing his way out of NY?

Keith Kinkaid also bounced back nicely from his OT loss against the Flyers. He was a wall when he needed to be stopping 28 of the Caps 29 shots with 11 of them in the last period. Adam Fox was a workhorse last night as logged 28 minutes and picked up an assist and +3 rating. Finally, Brett Howden closed the game with an empty netter thanks to Ryan Strome heads up play to help him end a 34 game goal-less streak.

Post Game Notes

  • The Rangers have earned at least one point in four of their last five games (3-1-1 record over the span), dating back to Mar. 13 at Boston.
  • The Rangers were 4-for-4 (8:00) on the penalty kill in tonight’s game and held Washington to only four shots on goal over the Capitals’ four power play opportunities.
  • The Rangers were credited with 23 blocked shots in tonight’s contest. New York registered at least 15 blocked shots in a game for the second consecutive contest and for the 10th time this season.

New York will be off today, their next game is Monday, Mar. 22 vs. Buffalo (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network).

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