Rangers may have found perfect line combinations in 5-3 win over Capitals

Rangers see improvements in recent line changes
Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) looks up as New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates with Vladimir Tarasenko after Zibanejad scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photos

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the New York Rangers. It had been 12 games since they won a hockey contest in regulation and have struggled to play a full 60 minutes of good hockey since the trade deadline. 

That certainly changed in a big way Tuesday night. 

Behind a roaring crowd at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers jumped on the rival Capitals early and never relinquished, winning the game 5-3. It was how the Rangers won though that was the most impressive. 

Before Tuesday’s battle, Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant shifted the lines again with Artemi Panarin back to playing on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Vladimir Tarasenko. Newly acquired Patrick Kane ended up working with Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck. 

The results came out splendidly even if a majority of the key pieces moved won’t get ahead of themselves. 

“Even with Bread (Panarin) we don’t have a ton of ice time together. I’ve been saying that the whole time, it doesn’t matter who you play with, you need time, you need to be able to talk on the bench. It’s not always going to work exactly like we want but today was definitely a step in the right direction.” Zibanejad said after his two goal night. 

Zibanejad and Tarasenko have been an early pairing that have taken off in recent weeks. Tarasenko has totaled six points in his last seven games while Zibanejad is coming off a two-score game. As the former Blue has grown more comfortable around his fellow teammates, the Rangers have seen more production out of one of their top trade deadline targets. 

In recent games, the same could be said for the other top target, Patrick Kane. His start to his Rangers’ career hasn’t gone extremely well as many have hoped (team is 3-2-1 in six games), but there are positive signs beginning to show with his new linemates. That even includes on the powerplay. 

“It’s getting there. I wouldn’t say it’s there yet. There’s certain things I can do, certain things to help me get in a rythym more. Tonight was a step in the right direction.” Kane explained after the win. 

Kane has totaled five points in his last four games with the Blueshirts. His powerplay goal in the first period helped New York helped overwhelm the Ovechkin-less Capitals and showed that the latest adjustments certainly look to be working. 

Kane gets is first home points in the win
New York Rangers’ Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

But as the Rangers continue to explain, the adjustments made aren’t happening overnight. The team may have looked good for a Tuesday night contest, but learning how to play together again with new additions is the main focal point as the Stanley Cup Playoffs draw closer. 

For New York’s captain, a win like Tuesday night shows just how good the team could eventually be. 

“It’s learning different players in how they play. It’s part of the adjustment we’re going through. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. You aren’t going to show up and have magic overnight.” Jacob Trouba said. “I think we’re getting better. A big key is knowing what we’re capable of.”

New York will be back on the ice Thursday for a weekend series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

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