Rangers win second straight, defeat Kraken 5-2
Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves and Blake Wheeler scored two goals to lead the New York Rangers to a 5-2 win against the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
The win was the second straight for New York, which defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 at home Sunday to end a season-long four-game skid (0-3-1).
Seattle lost for the second straight night after a 3-0 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday ended its nine-game winning streak.
Wheeler was one of 10 different Rangers to record a point Tuesday. The veteran forward finished with two points as did center Mika Zibanejad (goal, assist) and defenseman Adam Fox (two assists).
“Good to get the win,” Zibanejad said. “It wasn’t pretty at times but we took care of the chances we got and ‘Shesty’ played an unbelievable game for us.”
Rangers never trail, defeat Kraken 5-2
Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 8:22 of the first period. Flying down right wing, Trocheck slipped behind the defense to bury a gorgeous cross-crease feed by Artemi Panarin for his 14th goal and eighth on the power play.
But a Trocheck turnover in the neutral zone slightly more than two minutes later led to the tying goal. Seattle forward Jordan Eberle finished off a neat passing sequence for his sixth goal, tying the game 1-1 at 10:41.
The Rangers had a quick answer, however. Erik Gustafsson wired a straightaway shot through a Chris Kreider screen at 11:09 to put the Rangers ahead 2-1. It was Gustafsson’s first goal in 32 games and fourth of the season.
Shesterkin was the difference in the second period when the Rangers, despite being outplayed for large stretches, extended their lead to 4-1. The Rangers were on their heels to begin the period, but Shesterkin made seven saves in the first four minutes, including a pad stop on a point-blank rebound try by Jaden Schwartz and a beauty on Kailer Yamamoto off an odd-man rush.
“You hate to rely on [Shesterkin] to make the amount of high-quality saves but fortunately for us, that’s why he’s world class,” Wheeler explained. “He made a bunch of big ones for us.”
The Blueshirts goalie stopped all 16 shots he faced in the second and his teammates rewarded him at the other end. Wheeler deflected a Jonny Brodzinski shot past Kraken goalie Chris Driedger at 12:32. And Kaapo Kakko brought the crowd to its feet when he buried a Zibanejad pass into the slot at 17:01 to make it 4-1.
Kakko’s goal was his first in his second- game back after missing 21 straight with a lower-body injury. Kakko, who has three goals in 22 games this season, had not scored since Nov. 20 in Dallas against the Stars.
“It felt very good,” Kakko said about his goal. “Even last game, our line (with Zibanejad and Kreider) played a good game, just didn’t score goals. But, yeah, always when you haven’t been scoring goals, even when you haven’t been playing, that helps a lot.”
The Kraken added a second power-play goal with 5:36 to play in the third period to cut the Rangers lead to 4-2. Jared McCann cut to the net from left wing and his backhand shot deflected off the leg of Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren and over the glove of Shesterkin. Minutes before, Zibanejad was stuffed on a breakaway by Driedger.
Zibanejad, though, made a smart pass to Wheeler, who shot into the empty net with Driedger pulled for the extra attacker and 2:38 to play to put the game away. Shesterkin added an exclamation point to his superb night a minute later when he made a sprawling pad save to deny Yanni Gourde.
The Rangers head to Sin City to begin a four-game road trip Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights.
*Shesterkin is now 4-0-1 in five career starts against the Kraken.
*Kakko has three goals and one assist in five career games against the Kraken.
*The Rangers outscored the Kraken 9-3 in sweeping the two-game season series.
*McCann has scored seven goals in nine games against Shesterkin.