New York Rangers week of practice pays off in 5-3 win over Blue Jackets; survive Shesterkin scare
Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider scored two goals apiece Saturday night, including once each during a three-goal, 63-second flurry in the second period that lifted the visiting New York Rangers past the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-3.
Jacob Trouba capped off the second-period outburst for the Rangers, who have won two straight. Goalie Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves before being pulled after a collision with Alexandre Texier following the Blue Jackets’ final goal with 6:45 left. Alexandar Georgiev made two saves in relief.
Rangers avert disaster; Shesterkin okay
The New York Rangers averted disaster late in the game as they were cruising to victory.
Defenseman Patrik Nemeth actually pushed Alexandre Texier into Igor Shesterkin causing the Jackets’ forward to hit him on the side of the head. Igor laid on the ice for several seconds before coming to his knees.
After being criticized all week for not responding to Anthony Duclair and several other Panthers making contact with Igor last Monday, Kreider jumped on Texier immediately.
“I’ll tell you what I saw on the [Shesterkin collision],” Kreider explained. “I saw the very end of the play where he gets his arms off his body and kind of crosschecks his head. I went and grabbed him. I didn’t like seeing my goalie like that.”
Kreider indicated after the game that the team responded against Florida, albeit verbally. I think they got the message tonight on what the appropriate course of action should be.
“We responded the right way (to the incident),” head coach Gerard Gallant said.
Shesterkin was sent to the quiet room, implemented by the league to identify concussions quickly. The call either came from the league or the trainers, but it was simply precautionary.
“He’s fine, he could’ve came back,” Gallant revealed. “He had to do the mandatory 10 to 12 minutes (in the quiet room) but he was ready to come back, As soon as he got to the bench he said ‘I’m fine’ but they’ve got to be safe.”
Rangers say practice paid off
Panarin, who played two seasons with the Blue Jackets before signing as a free agent with the Rangers in July 2019, scored his first goal with 2:31 left in the period when his shot into a wide-open net bounced off the arm of a sprawling Merzlikins and trickled into the net.
Robinson gave the Blue Jackets a short-lived lead 6:56 into the second when took a pass from Jake Bean in the neutral zone, raced up the left side of the ice and sent a shot beyond the glove of Shesterkin into the far corner of the net.
But the Rangers wasted no time taking a two-goal lead. Kreider tied the game 43 seconds later when he put his stick down to redirect a pass into the crease by Trouba.
A long rebound of a shot by Panarin helped set up his second goal 36 seconds later. Ryan Strome collected the carom off Merzlikins and dished to Panarin, who fired from the slot past the extended sticks of Bean and Gustav Nyquist and beyond Merzlikins’ glove.
“The first period was sloppy. It looked like we had four days off,” Gallant said. “After that I thought we played the exact way I want to play. We controlled the puck in their zone. We did lots of cycling down low. The defensemen were involved in the cycle and we took over the game.”
Trouba put the Rangers ahead 4-2 just 27 seconds later, when Barclay Goodrow went around the back of the net and fed Trouba with the puck at point-blank range.
“We managed the puck better in the offensive zone,” Trouba noted. “Not getting too much into the cycles up high where we fuel transitions. I thought out forwards did a great job down low.”
Kreider scored again 52 seconds into the third, when he beat Merzlikins from the doorstep off a pass from Mika Zibanejad.
“Definitely,” Kreider said regarding practice time paying off. “I thought we did a better job of protecting the middle. I definitely think we took strides tonight.”
The Rangers will put it all to the test again when they face the Devils at MSG on Sunday night.
There were 13 action packed games in the NHL last night. Catch up quick on all of them here.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report