Rangers good start pays off in 5-2 win over Capitals

NHL: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers had drawn the ire of their head coach with slow starts since clinching a playoff spot on March 28. It burned them in their last two games, a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils and a 3-2 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Today, head coach Gerard Gallant was all smiles behind the bench as he watched his team jump out to a 2-0 lead, and an eventual 5-2 victory.

“That’s exactly the start and the finish (we were looking for),” Gallant said. “It was a good solid 60 minutes.”

Rangers good start pays off

New York Rangers
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers came out with purpose to start this contest and K’Andre Miller was the first benefactor. He cashed in a rebound of a Vincent Trocheck shot at the 13:17 mark of the opening frame for his 40th point of the year. Artemi Panarin picked up the assist giving him three straight seasons of 60+ assists with the Blueshirts joining Brian Leetch as the only other player to do so in franchise history.

Alexis Lafreniere would follow that up with a gorgeous move and backhand for his 16th of the season. Filip Chytil registered the lone assist just 2:02 after Miller’s tally.

“Good play by Fil there and I had a lot of time,” Lafreniere said. “Our start was really good and we kept it going for three periods.”

Kaapo Kakko recorded his 16th of the year and now has goals in back-to-back games. Miller would find his defensive partner Jacob Trouba, who took the puck down low and delivered a nice centering feed for a 3-0 lead just 60 seconds into the middle stanza.

Dylan Strome would break the string of Rangers goals with a fortuitous bounce off Niko Mikkola. Igor Shesterkin was strong when called upon making 28 saves.

Vladimir Tarasenko got that tally back with an absolutely wicked snipe over Darcy Kuemper’s glove at the 5:53 mark of the third period. Torcheck and Panarin registered their second points of the match.

Aliaksei Protas tried to get the Caps back in it with a score to cut the deficit in half. However, a power play goal by Mika Zibanejad set up by Patrick Kane and Panarin sealed the deal.

“I thought it was a really good 60 minute effort,” Zibanejad acknowledged. “It’s important that we have our power play going as we go into the playoffs.”

With the win, the Rangers have hit the century mark for points again (101).

The Blueshirts now have a few days off before hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night at 7:30.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore