Before Monday night’s contest, the New York Rangers seemed to be at a crossroads with their season and their head coach.
In the end, Gerard Gallant’s in-game adjustments and a three-goal third period were key to saving the season and a 6-4 comeback win over the Blues.
“That meant a lot. The streak we’ve been in the last two weeks hasn’t been good. It’s a simple game and when you keep it simple, good things happen” Gallant told reporters after the win.
After a dull start to the game that saw just six shots on goal combined between the two teams in the first 10 minutes, the pace of play picked up for both teams. The Rangers would take a 2-1 lead into the second period with goals from Braden Schneider and Adam Fox. The Blues would respond in the second period though with three goals, countering a Rangers goal from Vincent Trocheck.
Down 4-3 at the end of the second, the Rangers were booed off the ice as the fans at Madison Square Garden voiced their frustration for a team that had been 1-4 in their last five games.
New York would respond massively in the third period though with pressure mounting on the team and coach. Gallant made a quick change moving Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko to the top line with Mika Zibanejad, while Chris Kreider moved to the third line.
The move would end up paying off in a big way.
After K’Andre Miller tied the game at four off a wrister from the top of the zone, a forced turnover from the Rangers ended when Alexis Lafreniere scored off a Zibanejad shot to give New York the lead. A Chris Kreider short-handed goal put the finishing touches on a key Rangers win, and sent the Garden into a frenzy it hasn’t experienced in weeks.
The Rangers’ head coach told reporters afterward that the line changes were necessary to shift momentum,
“After the second, I wasn’t liking what I was seeing and I just wanted to try and spark something again. The two kids deserve some opportunities and I thought they played really well. For me, it made the three lines all better. Hopefully, we can sustain it but we’ll see.”
The win moved New York to 12-10-5 with an upcoming road trip against the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche on the horizon. While the upcoming schedule appears daunting, the Rangers feel the comeback win could be the setting stone for more in the future.
“Last couple of games haven’t gone the way we wanted but sticking with it and doing little things to get us to this point is the biggest thing.” K’Andre Miller explained. “Sticking to what we do best and believing and playing a full 60.”
- The Rangers had Filip Chytil miss his second straight game due to a lower-body injury. In his place, Jonny Brodzinski was called up for the second straight game and got his first game action this season.
- For the third straight game, captain Jacob Trouba got into another fight, this time with Tarasenko after his shot went out of play. Both were given penalties for roughing.
- It was an immensely frustrating day for Kaapo Kakko Monday night. The Rangers second overall pick had three superb scoring chances and he hit the post twice and was robbed by Binnington a third time. “Unreal…he played really well but you keep shooting and going to the net and good things will happen,” Gallant said.