Rangers Recall: Kaapo Kakko stepping up, win streak hits 8

kaapo kakko
Oct 11, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

No one would have faulted the New York Rangers if they had a letdown at the Garden on Tuesday night. After an emotional and draining comeback win over the New York Islanders in front of 79,600 fans at MetLife Stadium, they emptied their tanks to overcome multiple deficits.

Artemi Panarin’s virtuoso solo performance to score 10 seconds into overtime for a 6-5 victory was still being celebrated when the puck dropped against the Dallas Stars. The Blueshirts opened the game a step behind, resulting in several turnovers leading to dangerous chances that Igor Shesterkin turned aside.

Buoyed by great goaltending, Adam Fox put home the opening tally of the game midway through the first period. New York never looked back, eventually winning 3-1 for their eighth straight triumph.

“I think it was easy for us to have a letdown here,” Fox admitted. “Our last two games, our first periods weren’t great. I thought we played well defensively.”

Related: Alexis Lafreniere’s extra effort the difference

Rangers Recall: Kaapo Kakko stepping up, win streak at 8

NHL: Dallas Stars at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kaapo Kakko earning more ice time

There’s been a lot of talk regarding the possibility that Kaapo Kakko could be traded. Although he’s aware of the rumors, the second overall pick of the 2019 draft is choosing to ignore them.

The moment Blake Wheeler went out for the season with a lower-body injury, moving Kakko made even less sense than it did before. Aside from the fact he plays a position the Rangers are thin at, he’s stepped up and scored some eye-popping goals to put trade talk to bed.

Including last night’s game-winning snipe, Kakko has scored five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in as many matches. The 23-year-old has been extremely noticeable with coach Peter Laviolette beginning to double shift him.

“I’ve got to find a way to put him out there more,” Laviolette noted. “He’ looks confident. He’s demanding the puck and when he has it, it’s hard to take it from him.”

Regardless of any trade rumors, there’s still a lot of intrigue surrounding Kakko. When July 1st hits, he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and likely looking to get a raise over his current $2.1 million salary. Depending on how much of an increase, an interesting summer could be in the cards.

Igor Shesterkin Wows Garden Faithful

The Rangers No. 1 goalie appears to be regaining his Vezina-level form at just the right time.

In his last four starts, Shesterkin is 4-0-0 with a GAA of 2.26. He also has a sparkling save percentage of .937 and a shutout. However, Tuesday’s 41 save performance was marked by spectacular glove saves and a potential save-of-the-year candidate.

In the third period, looking to hold a one-goal lead, Shesterkin made a diving desperation save to prevent Tyler Seguin from tying the game. It wowed the fans in attendance and everyone at home as well.

β€œI just tried to play to the end,” Shesterkin explained. β€œI was lucky tonight. The guys did a great job boxing people out. When the goalie sees the puck it’s easier. I want to say thank you guys.”

A grateful Shesterkin will be the catalyst for any long postseason run the Rangers intend on having. If that happens, the players will be thanking him.

For now, his hot goaltending and the Rangers clutch play has given them their longest winning streak since the 2015-16 season.

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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