Quick, Lafreniere lead milestone filled win for Rangers over Coyotes

NHL: New York Rangers at Arizona Coyotes
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday at Mullett Arena, the New York Rangers defeated the Arizona Coyotes, 8-5, for their 50th win of the season.

Alexis Lafrenière led the way offensively for the Blueshirts, as he registered five points (three goals, two assists) on the night. Jonathan Quick got the starting nod in net, stopping 27 shots for his 392nd career win, passing Ryan Miller for the most all-time among American-born goaltenders.

Meanwhile, Chris Kreider registered his 300th career goal becoming the third-fastest Ranger to hit that benchmark (807 games). And Adam Fox notched two assists to reach 300 points in just his 349th game. Per NYR PR, he’s one of 13 defensemen in NHL history to reach the feat in less than 350 games. Only Brian Leetch (295 GP) did it faster with the Blueshirts.

“What an amazing career for Quick,” coach Peter Laviolette praised. “And what a game for Lafrenière. ‘Foxy’ with a milestone, and Kreider with a milestone. Big performance for a big win.”

Karel Vejmelka was between the pipes for Arizona and made 24 saves on 30 shots in the losing effort. Four players collected two points each on the night for the Coyotes.

Related: Jacob Trouba returns against Coyotes

New York Rangers 8 vs Arizona Coyotes 5

NHL: New York Rangers at Arizona Coyotes
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In the opening period, the Rangers initially found it challenging to impose their game plan, struggling to establish their forecheck. For the better part of the first half, Arizona dominated, spending considerable time in the offensive zone and putting the Rangers under pressure. 

Despite the Coyotes’ control and the Rangers’ difficulties, New York managed to break the deadlock, as Lafrenière scored his 23rd goal of the season at 14:15 giving the Rangers a 1-0 heading into intermission.

The second period was a rollercoaster of emotions and goals, significantly ramping up the intensity from the first. The Rangers kicked off the middle frame with an impressive shift that lasted nearly two minutes, culminating in Ryan Lindgren finding the back of the net at 1:59, marking his third goal of the season and extending the Rangers’ lead to 2-0. 

However, the Coyotes quickly responded, with Matias Maccelli scoring at 6:27, his 14th of the season, narrowing the gap to 2-1.

Just 17 seconds after Maccelli’s goal, Lafrenière netted his second of the game and 24th of the season at 6:45, thanks to an outstanding effort by Vincent Trocheck. This goal not only restored the Rangers’ two-goal lead at 3-1, but also marked a personal milestone for Lafrenière, as he collected his first 50-point season.

Arizona refused to back down, with Clayton Keller scoring his 32nd goal at 11:06 on a beautiful backhander, bringing the Coyotes within one once again at 3-2. 

The game saw further drama when each team had a goal disallowed. Nick Bjugstad’s goal was negated due to a distinct kicking motion, and Chris Kreider’s potential 300th career goal was called back for goaltender interference against Jack Roslovic.

However, Bjugstad redeemed himself by scoring at 19:18, his 21st of the season, to tie the game at 3-3 heading to the second intermission.

The third period was nothing short of exhilarating, filled with milestones, and a flurry of goals that kept fans on the edge of their seats. 

Kreider, much like Bjugstad earlier, redeemed his earlier disallowed goal by scoring his 35th of the season and the 300th of his NHL career at 5:44, propelling the Rangers to a 4-3 lead. This achievement placed Kreider among Rangers legends, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach the 300-goal plateau, joining Rod Gilbert (406) and Jean Ratelle (336).

The Rangers continued their offensive showcase, with Zac Jones extending the lead to 5-3 at 7:16, following a splendid assist from Lafrenière off the rush. 

Barclay Goodrow then added to the Rangers’ lead, scoring shorthanded at 9:33, his second goal of the season and first since November 20, pushing the lead to 6-3. 

Despite the widening gap, the Coyotes demonstrated resilience, with Lawson Crouse responding on the power play at 12:21, his 21st of the season, to keep Arizona in the game.

The drama continued, as rookie Logan Cooley cut the Rangers’ lead to one, making it 6-5 with his 17th goal of the season at 14:26. 

However, Artemi Panarin eased the pressure on New York by scoring into the empty net at 17:35, his 44th of the season, further securing the Rangers’ lead.

The night’s crowning moment came from Lafrenière, who capped off his standout performance by scoring into the empty net at 19:45, notching his first career hat trick and sealing the game for Quick and the Rangers.

“I knew Troch was going to try and give it to me,” Lafrenière laughed. “We’ll just keep going and get ready for the playoffs.”

The Blueshirts will be back in action on Monday night, as they face off against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM. 

Of course, this team will be doing a lot celebrating, especially on the plane ride home for Quick etching his name in the history books.

“Grateful we got a couple of empty netters to close it out,” a smiling Quick said afterwards. “It’s a good feeling to get it done and focus on winning the division.”

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