Rangers give strong effort in loss to Penguins

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The Blueshirts entered today’s contest having won two of their previous three games, including Friday night’s 6-2 victory in Buffalo. David Quinn elected to start rookie goaltender Alexandar Georgiev for the second consecutive game, playing the “hot goalie” over the “rested goalie.” Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, their comeback attempt came up short, dropping a 6-5 decision to their long time rivals.

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KZZ – Final score aside, it was another highly productive game for the line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Mats Zuccarello. The diminutive Norwegian registered a pair of tallies, Kreider added a pair of assists, and the Swedish pivot notched a goal and an assist to lead the charge for the Rangers.

Zuccarello got his first goal of the game in the first period, when his cross-ice pass was redirected by the Penguins defender and into the net of Casey DeSmith. The goal tied the game late in the first period, and extended Zuccarello’s points-streak to four games.

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For an encore, Zuccarello went to the front of the net and found the loose puck sitting on the goal line, and tapped it in for his 11th of the season.

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Zuccarello’s time on Broadway seems to be coming to a close as the fan favorite is playing some of the best hockey of his career. Perhaps we will see Zuccarello come back to the Rangers during the summer, but for now, let’s just enjoy the 31-year-old skating in his Rangers sweater.

As for Zibanejad, the Swedish center got the final goal of the contest, depositing the rebound of Kevin Shattenkirk’s point shot with 18 seconds to go in regulation. The goal was Zibanejad’s 26th of the season, leaving him just one shy of his personal best of 27 which he accomplished last season.

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Ryan Strome – It was Vlad Namestnikov snapping his goalless drought on Friday night, and it was Ryan Strome snapping his own 12-game drought with the third goal of the day for the Blueshirts. Strome was “Johnny on the spot” as he corralled the loose puck and beat a flailing DeSmith to tie the game at three heading into the final frame.

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Strome has been a very nice addition to the Rangers lineup since being acquired back in November. Strome still has two years left on his current contract, so you can expect him to be a veteran presence as the Rangers continue to rebuild.

Kevin Hayes – The Dorchester native had himself a goal and an assist in this one. The assist came on Mats Zuccarello’s power play goal in the first, and Hayes’s goal got the Rangers within two late in the third. The Rangers got in hard on the forecheck and worked the puck around to Hayes for the center’s 14th goal of the season.

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Like Zuccarello, these are likely the final days of Kevin Hayes wearing the Rangers sweater. There have been reports of the Rangers trying to sign both players to contracts, but it is more likely than not that both Blueshirts forwards will be headed off Broadway before the trade deadline on February 25th.

Next Game: The Rangers head to North Carolina on Tuesday night to face the Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Puck drops at 7!

LETS GO RANGERS!!

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