New York Rangers respond to coach’s challenge with a near complete 60 minute effort

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Oct 29, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) fights with Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi (16) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers returned to the ice after having three days to digest everything they did wrong in a 5-1 loss to the Flames. On Monday they could not survive 20 giveaways and other misplays against one of the league’s hottest teams.

It was something that irked head coach Gerard Gallant, who conducted a rare video session to show them their mistakes. Prior to the last night’s game at the Garden, the coach issued a challenge.

“You’ve got to play a man’s game,” Gallant made clear. “We have to play a man’s game and we’re doing that, not every night, but when we do we’ll be a real good team.”

And that’s what they did.

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New York Rangers show grit, poise, and persistence in complete win

Chris Kreider scored two power play goals in the third period and Igor Shesterkin stopped all 31 shots he faced Friday night as the host New York Rangers cruised to a 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The first time the Blueshirts have ever shutout the Jackets in their history.

Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafreniere scored in the first period while Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin had three assists apiece for the Rangers, who have won five of six (5-1-0) since opening with a loss and a tie.

The shutout was Shesterkin’s first of the season and the third of his career. For Gerard Gallant, it was just the response he was looking to see from his charges.

“I thought we managed the puck real well,” he said. “I didn’t think we turned it over near as much in the neutral zone as we did the prior game. Our forecheck was a lot better. I just thought we had 20 guys ready to play tonight. We’re eight games into the season, now we have to play a more complete game then we did it the past, tonight’s game was the most complete game we played.”

After the game, Gallant was asked if this was the complete 60 minutes he wanted. “It was close,” he responded. Of course, there’s always room for improvement as the he noted that the team was a little loose to start the game.

Was that another challenge from the coach? Could be.

Rangers power past the Jackets

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers took control when Strome and Lafreniere scored 3:02 apart late in the first.

Panarin set up Strome’s goal by taking a pass from Nils Lundkvist and stopping just in front of the blue line. Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington, in front of Panarin, could not adjust, which opened up a passing lane for Panarin.

The left winger passed to Strome, who strode into the slot and fired a shot between Cole Sillinger and Gabriel Carlsson and over the glove of Merzlikins with 7:31 left.

The assist was the first NHL point for the 21-year-old Lundkvist.

A nifty pass from Fox set up Lafreniere’s goal. Fox skated around the net with Andrew Peeke in pursuit. Fox fired a shot through the crease and between five players — teammate Sammy Blais four Blue Jackets — to Lafreniere, who went to one knee and beat Merzlikins beyond his glove.

“I just turned and looked, and I was looking at the other side and then saw him on the backside,” Fox said. “Nice shot by him to put that in.”

Another impressive assist, this one by Panarin, set up Kreider’s first power play goal at 1:19 of the third and with just seconds left on the man advantage. Panarin shuffled the puck to the left of Merzlikins and dished a pass beyond Vladislav Gavrikov and to Kreider, who backhanded the shot home.

Then Fox and Panarin exchanged the puck before Kreider, stationed next to Merzlikins, redirected Fox’s shot with 8:37 left.

“They come in bunches,” Kreider said. “I think we were due. We were getting looks, we were hitting posts, and pucks were going in for us tonight. The puck was certainly moving quick. We’ve got an incredible four guys up there on the perimeter and the walls so we’re always a threat to score.”

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–Field Level Media contributed to this report

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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