New York Rangers’ Kids shine in Sunrise to beat Panthers
The New York Rangers looked old and sluggish to start the game in Sunrise, Florida as they were outshot 12-3 and outscored 2-0 in the opening frame.
When the second period started, Gerard Gallant relied on his young charges and watched each member of the Kid Line score a goal for the Rangers’ 21st comeback win of the season.
According to the New York Rangers, it was just the second time that all three players scored in a game (regular season and playoffs) since December 7th in Vegas.
“They were excellent,” Gerard Gallant pointed out. “All three kids scored a goal tonight and played real well tonight. When they play like that it’s exciting. If I didn’t notice [they had it going] I shouldn’t be coaching in this league.”
New York Rangers Kid Line shines
It took a full period for the Blueshirts’ legs to arrive from Carolina, as goals by Aleksander Barkov and Ryan Lomberg put them in a hole after 20 minutes of play.
However, when the second period started the Rangers’ engines were revving and their three young stallions led the charge.
Kaapo Kakko registered his 14th goal of the season at the 8:20 mark assisted by Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere. On the play, Kakko crashed the net to find a loose puck off a Chytil and Lafreniere give-and-go set up.
“First period wasn’t the way we wanted to start,” Kakko admitted. “That’s the way we need to play. We are good in the O-zone all of us. I don’t have too many goals in front of the net so happy I got that.”
The Rangers would knot things up with just 1:45 remaining as Jacob Trouba waited for Lafreniere to streak down the right wing. New York’s first overall selection from 2020 received the pass and made a sweet deke to his backhand to slip it past Sergei Bobrovsky for his 15th tally of 2022-23.
“Nice play by Troubs,” Lafreniere explained during the intermission. “He made a great play to me and I had time to make a move. It was good to get one.”
Patrick Kane was the beneficiary of puck luck when his cross-ice feed to Vincent Trocheck hit a Panthers’ player and deflected into the net for his 20th of the season. The tally came just 1:22 into the third period.
It was also the 450th goal of his career and gave him sole possession of second all-time in NHL scoring for U.S. Born players (1,233 points).
“You play long enough you reach these milestones,” Kane smiled. “It wasn’t pretty but I’ll take it.”
Chytil would score the eventual game-winning goal off a smart bank pass by Kakko. Florida’s defenseman Aaron Ekblad fumbled the puck allowing Chytil to get behind him for a gorgeous snipe over Bobrovsky’s blocker.
“We’re trying to keep the momentum,” Chytil said. “Our line felt great today. I think we’re playing good all season and today we score three important goals. I feel happy for all of us.”
The Panthers made things interesting as Barkov picked up his second of the game 42 seconds later. But Rangers’ goalie Jaroslav Halak (31 saves) was solid the rest of the way and even made two big stops late to preserve the lead.
New York will now head home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday with a magic number of 2 points to clinch a playoff spot.
Note: All quotes via the MSG Networks telecast.