The New York Rangers clinched a playoff berth on Saturday night, as the team won their 100th point in a lopsided 5–1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
The Blue Shirts will see postseason action for the 1st time in 5 years, and are tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes with 9 games remaining.
“It feels great,” said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “That’s what you set out to do when the season starts.”
The clinching game started slow for the Rangers, as goalie Igor Shesterkin allowed the puck in the net just over 2 minutes into the game.
The Rangers fought back, though, as Artemi Panarin scored unassisted later in the first, before the team exploded for 3 more goals in the second period — with Andrew Copp, Chris Kreider, and Ryan Strome finding the back of the net.
Kreider would go on to score again in the third period, giving him his 49th on the season — bringing him to 3rd in the NHL this season.
“From start to finish, it was an excellent game,” said Gallant. “I liked everything about it — we created a lot of great scoring chances.”
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Meanwhile, Shesterkin, who has struggled in recent games, maintains the best save percentage in the NHL, and is favorite to secure the coveted Vezina Trophy.
As things currently stand in the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins sit as the 3rd playoff spot with 92 points, 4 ahead of the Washington Capitals.
The team’s next game comes against the Hurricanes, giving the Blue Shirts the chance to sit atop the division alone, which would give the team home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“When you’re having the season that we’re having, you want to get home ice — that’s the next goal,” Gallant said.
Still, betting markets are somewhat bearish on the team’s chances to hoist the Stanley Cup, as DraftKings Sportsbook gives the Blue Shirts as +1600 odds (meaning bettors would win $16 for every $1 wagered). That puts the Rangers as the 8th most likely team to win the title.