Rangers End Losing Streak; Chomp The Sharks 6-5

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Here is our recap of the Rangers 6-5 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Kevin Hayes – After missing the last six games with a contusion, Hayes returned with a brilliant performance, scoring the game’s opening goal and having the primary assist on Ryan McDonagh’s first of the game. Hayes took the bank pass from JT Miller and hammered a slap shot through Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell.


Hayes played the kind of game that most Rangers fans have been waiting for from the Boston native. He used his speed to get in on the forecheck, used his size to protect the puck, and, wait for it, shot the puck! Hayes recorded four shots on net and was a notable presence all game. If this is the way he is going to play the rest of the season, his future on Broadway should be pretty bright.


Jesper Fast – Probably the hardest working player to put on the Rangers sweater since 2014, Fast was rewarded for all of that effort with his eighth goal of the season. Peter Holland hit a cutting Michael Grabner, and the Austrian fired a no-look pass to Fast for a one-timer at the side of the net. Fast doesn’t get the praise for his game because he isn’t going to light up the box score. But make no mistake that he is a very important part of this team, as we saw when the team was horrendous during his absence in October.


“It’s amazing sometimes, just sit back and look at how simple you have to play sometimes and that’s when the ice really seems to open up,” Miller said after he registered the game-sealing goal with 1:50 left in regulation to make it 6-4 while adding two assists. This was just two days after coach Alain Vigneault found it necessary to staple Miller to the bench for the final two periods of a 6-3 loss to the Ducks in Anaheim.

“It’s when you stop moving your feet and trying to make something out of nothing is when you get in trouble,” Miller said. “Just went back to trying to play my game and create a little room for us.” – NY Post/Brett Cyrgails

JT Miller – With the return of Kevin Hayes, we saw JT Miller play one of his best games of the season. Miller had two assists, as well as scoring the goal that propelled the Blueshirts to victory. After Mats Zuccarello faked his shot and went around the net, he found the cutting Miller who snapped home the pass from his Norwegian teammate. Hopefully, a performance like this one from Miller will get him going for the stretch run.


Offense from the Defense – The blue line stepped up offensively in this one, scoring three of the team’s six markers, including both of the special teams’ tallies. Ryan McDonagh scored his first two goals of the season, and Brady Skjei scored his third of the campaign. For McDonagh’s first of the game, he took a gorgeous pass from Kevin Hayes on a 2v1 and buried it past the outstretched Dell.


For an encore, McDonagh took a pass from Pavel Buchnevich on the man-advantage, after the Russian did some great work in the corners and wristed one past the screened Sharks netminder. McDonagh’s pair of goals were the 49th and 50th of his NHL career and became the fifteenth defenseman in team history to hit the 50 goal mark with the club.


But the defensemen weren’t done yet. After Michael Grabner’s shot was stopped, and having just started his turn back to defend, Skjei had the puck deflect off of his leg when Kevin Labanc went to clear it from the front of the net. Skjei was in the right place at the right time to get the Rangers what turned out to be a crucial insurance marker.


A Win is A Win – The Rangers won this game but there were countless stupid mistakes that made this game tenser than it should have been. Brendan Smith had two egregious decisions that cost the Rangers two goals against, both of which are inexcusable. On the first Sharks goal, Smith made a horrible line change that essentially put his team “shorthanded” when Barclay Goodrow was all alone for the rebound goal. Then, early in the second period, Logan Couture nicked Tony DeAngelo with his skate and tripping the defenseman to the ice. No penalty was called and the Sharks scored seconds later. Why is this a big deal? Because Smith stopped playing and started complaining to the refs and didn’t go back and, you know, play defense.

The third horrible mistake came from Nick Holden and the aforementioned Ryan McDonagh. With McDonagh defending Kevin Labanc 1v1, Holden decides to help out his partner to make it a 1v2. The problem is that Holden doesn’t take the puck away, and instead allows Couture to collect Labanc’s drop pass as Couture scores his second of the game. As the title of this point says, a win is a win. But if this team is going to make the postseason, these mindnumbing mistakes are going to have to end.

Ondrej Pavelec – Looking at the game stats, you’d think Ondrej Pavelec just happened to be on the winning side of a goal-fest. And in a sense he was. But if you watched the game, you saw that Pavelec made a few timely saves that kept the Rangers in this game. With the Blueshirts trailing 3-2 in the second, Pavelec stoned Jonas Donskoi from the top of the crease.


Later in the game, with the Rangers hanging on to a 5-4 lead, Pavelec made two back-to-back saves to keep the Blueshirts in the lead. Pavelec didn’t have his best performance, but he made the saves when the team needed him to make them.


Next Game: The Blueshirts get some much-needed rest as the NHL goes on the All-Star break. The Rangers return to action on Thursday when they host the young Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drops at 7!


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