Rangers provide late night thrills with OT win against Canucks

NHL: New York Rangers at Vancouver Canucks
Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the New York Rangers extended their win streak to four straight with a 4-3 OT victory against the Vancouver Canucks. The Blueshirts remain perfect on this 5-game road trip (4-0-0) looking to stay that way with one final game in Winnipeg versus the Jets tomorrow.

The much improved Canucks under Rick Tocchet provided the Rangers with plenty of challenges. It was a fairly even match-up between two teams early in their respective seasons, but the real story of the game was special teams, and that became the clear theme to the very end.

“It was good to show our resilience; you can say that we haven’t been tested to score in the third when we’ve had a lead, but we battled hard,” Adam Fox said afterwards. “It was a bit of a sloppy game, back and forth, back and forth, power play, penalty kill…and we’ll take the two points…it’s a team effort, and everyone’s contributing.”

Related: Peter Laviolette pushing right buttons

New York Rangers 4 vs Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT)

NHL: New York Rangers at Vancouver Canucks
Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports

The Western Canadian team has essentially been alternating goaltenders to this point in the season, with veterans Thatcher Demko in net for some games and Casey DeSmith tending goal for others. For the Rangers on Saturday night, Igor Shesterkin was the net minder — looking to continue his previous winning performances in Seattle and Calgary and that of Jonathan Quick in Edmonton.

The initial face-off of the game featured two former teammates, Mika Zibanejad and former Blueshirt JT Miller. From there, a fast pace ensued and both teams played competitively the remainder of the way. The game was a notable 500th career game for veteran fourth liner Barclay Goodrow; and his line, in particular center Nick Bonino, was called upon to block multiple shots throughout the game — beginning five minutes into the first period.

At 4:49, special teams play was activated for the first time in what ultimately turned into a true battle of the special teams for the Blueshirts and the Canucks. Jacob Trouba took a minor for roughing Elias Pettersson as he pushed the Vancouver forward out of the net, but the Canucks were unsuccessful in their power play, being called offside twice over the course of the two minutes.

Not three minutes later, Dakota Joshua matched the Trouba penalty with his own roughing penalty, taking a minor against Trouba. The Rangers’ penalty kill was successful, however, and play resumed. The pace of play in the first frame was steady and continued to be quick, with the Canucks seemingly not fatigued despite playing on a back-to-back from the night before.

But two more penalties followed in the first frame, one by each team; and on a delay of game penalty by Filip Hronek taken amidst the previous Joshua roughing penalty kill, the Rangers benefited from a 5-on-3 situation — and the first power play goal was scored by Artemi Panarin on a patented Breadman snapshot, catching DeSmith off-guard as it slammed through traffic in front of the Vancouver net. The assists went to Vincent Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad, the latter of whom at that point was still looking for his first goal of the season.

The pace of the second period didn’t quite match that of the first, especially in the second half of the 20 minutes; and if you asked most Blueshirts if they were happy with the way that frame went, most would likely tell you the team could have played a bit better.

Notable throughout the game was the play of Igor Shesterkin, who compensated for his team’s mistakes more than once in every period played. At four minutes into the period, however, an extended shift by the Rangers in their own zone resulted in three blocked shots by Bonino, who, as mentioned earlier, was instrumental in the slot for the team — as they had some trouble defending a reinvigorated Canucks team looking to compete in their division this season.

Vancouver took one minor penalty by Sam Lafferty for interference on Trocheck and New York took two penalties, a too many men on the ice served by Will Cuylle and a holding called on Artemi Panarin, both in the middle frame.

The bench minor proved costly to the Blueshirts, however, as JT Miller achieved a perfect tip-in goal from Hronek and Pettersson, as the clock wound down on the Ranger penalty with but three seconds to spare on their kill. The second frame ended with the game tied at 1 goal apiece.

As if Saturday night’s game hadn’t already featured enough action, the third frame became a frenzy of the special teams.

Despite a more tightly played period than the second had been for the Blueshirts, at 2:50 Jimmy Vesey was penalized for tripping Nils Higlander; and once again, the Rangers found themselves on the penalty kill. That kill was mastered successfully, but then the real special teams competition took off.

At 8:41, Phil DiGiuseppe took a four-minute double minor for high sticking Mika Zibanejad to the face, and New York should have been off to the races. Yet a somewhat sloppy turnover by Adam Fox was intercepted, unassisted, by Tyler Myers; and that led to a shorthanded goal with Vancouver leading in scoring for the first time of the night, at 2-1. But then Vancouver took a bench penalty, served by Conor Garland. Since it was still during the double minor by DiGiuseppe, however, the Rangers had a 50-second window of 5-on-3 play. And Adam Fox took advantage, with a beautiful deflection shot off a Panarin pass. Score now, 2-2.

And then Mika Zibanejad “finally” scored his first goal of the season. After the clock ticked away the 5-on-3 for the Blueshirts, at 5-on-4, Fox passed the puck to Zibanejad on a chance he could, or should, have taken himself — and the top line center slid the puck into the net for yet another Ranger power play goal — and a 3-2 game lead. To say Zibanejad was relieved would be an understatement.

After the game, in response to how he felt about scoring a goal for the first time this season, Mika Zibanejad said, “yes — I’m not gonna lie, I think [it’s been] frustrating from the chances that have been there, and how close it’s been; but it’s a lot easier to deal with when the team is winning and we get the two points. That’s all that matters. And obviously I want to be able to contribute and help, but as long as we win it, it doesn’t hurt as much.”

Although an unusual “hand closing on puck” minor was subsequently served by Filip Chytil, the final scoring in the third period was at even strength, with a Carson Soucy goal coming at 15:42, assisted by Hronek and Anthony Beauvillier, to tie the game at 3-3 — the score at the end of regulation.

Off to overtime went the Canucks and the Rangers, and in the expected fast-paced, 3-on-3 play, the Canucks achieved some impressive shots on goal. But Igor Shesterkin played like the former Vezina winner he is, and made what was perhaps the save of the season so far with a diving glove save on a rebound shot by Andrei Kuzmenko. The goalie stopped six shots on goal, and gave his team a chance to win. Given the overtime minutes spent by the Canucks in the Rangers zone, the starting net minder, at the end of a very long evening, stole the game for his team.

And so they obliged him, by scoring at 3:48 into overtime. With a pass from Chris Kreider, K’Andre Miller sealed the deal and the game ended with a score of 4-3.

Rangers Notes

  • K’Andre Miller scored his first goal of the season
  • Igor Shesterkin stopped 30 of 33 shots
  • Mika Zibanejad finished with 1 goal and 2 assists
  • Adam Fox has already established a new career-high in single season pp goals with 3
  • Artemi Panarin keeps season opening point streak alive at 8 (4 goals, 8 assists)

The Rangers are off today to travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets on Monday with a 7:30 p.m. ET puck drop.

Deborah Seymour grew up in New York City and studied in the City University of New York system for... More about Deborah Seymour

Mentioned in this article:

More About: