Vladimir Tarasenko scores in St. Louis return, tired Rangers fall in OT

NHL: New York Rangers at St. Louis Blues
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers didn’t get into St. Louis until the early hours of the morning. They had just won a physical, fight-filled match against a playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightning squad the night before.

They were tired, and it showed.

However, the Rangers were still able to muster a point on a night where both Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola were given a warm return.

“It wasn’t a great game obviously,” Gerard Gallant summarized. “There wasn’t a lot of energy with our group. Obviously back-to-backs and a long flight– you hate to make excuses. Anyway, we got through it.”

Vladimir Tarasenko given a warm welcome

vladimir tarasenko
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola were both given a standing ovation which was wonderful to see early in the first period.

However, once the video tribute finished for Tarasenko, the outpouring of love and adoration by the fans in St. Louis lasted nearly two minutes. After almost 11 years, 553 points, and a Stanley Cup the skilled winger had water in eyes and appreciation in his heart.

“It means a lot to me and my family,” Tarasenko said during MSG Network’s first intermission. “It was a very emotional moment for me. I was nervous overall but I expected something like this. Thanks a lot for doing this. It was very important for me.”

Earlier in the day, it was learned that Tarasenko made a large donation to St. Louis’ Washington University’s Children’s Hospital.

Rangers lose to Blues in OT

If you managed to stay awake after the first period was over, you witnessed a decent hockey game.

The Rangers finally were able to find some semblance of their skating legs in the second period but you could tell it was well shy of what they’re capable of doing. Unfortunately, it was Artemi Panarin who tried one deke too many that led to a turnover and Alexey Toropchenko scored for the first goal of the game.

New York’s power play was excellent in this contest going 2 for 2. They tied the game off the stick of St. Louis’ honored guest.

Tarasenko found the puck in the slot and shot it over a downed Jordan Binnington just 1:55 into the third period. Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox registered the assists.

The Blues regained the lead midway through the final frame when Tyler Pitlick scored off a mad scramble in Jaroslav Halak’s crease.

Vincent Trocheck scored the second power play goal of the night with the goalie pulled at the 17:57 mark. Once again, Tarasenko was involved in the scoring getting the primary assist as Panarin got the other helper.

In overtime, the Rangers looked slow and even the speedy K’Andre Miller could not get back in his own zone after he coughed up the puck at the other end. Kasperi Kapanen converted the odd-man rush just 76 seconds into the extra session.

“It wasn’t our best game all around. It might be the first time in my career I’ve been in back-to-back games in different conferences from home,” Jacob Trouba admitted. “Getting in late after an emotional win for our guys. I don’t want to make excuses, but it was obviously tough with a little bit of sleep and trying to turn it around.”

Halak finished the match with 19 saves.

The Rangers went with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen again as Patrick Kane is still being rested with lower-body issue. They will be back in action against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday with three games remaining in the season.

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

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