NEW YORK — When in doubt, the New York Rangers’ key to winning has always been based on their ability to win on special teams, and a top goaltender.
Monday night, the Blueshirts used that formula to perfection.
New York got a pair of goals from veteran stars and Igor Shesterkin came through with clutch saves late to preserve the team’s 2-1 home opening win over the Arizona Coyotes.
“I think that you’re gonna have to figure out how to win a lot of different ways. Tonight, for me, it was a good test. I was proud of our guys and the way we went out and took charge in the third,” Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette said after the win.
As he has done so many times before, Chris Kreider got the scoring started for New York midway through the first period when Mika Zibanejad found him on a two-on-one fastbreak. The goal was Kreider’s fourth of the young season and Zibanejad’s fourth assist.
While the top line for the Blueshirts got the scoring started, it was the second line of Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafreniere that got the offense flowing early. In fact, after another solid game, the group appears to be turning a corner together in the young season. They totaled
As good as the second-line was though, the Rangers ran into problems in the second period. New York was called for four different penalties in the second – eventually giving up the tying score on a powerplay to Clayton Keller.
Some calls didn’t go without some controversy though. Panarin seemingly had a breakaway late in the second but had his path blocked by an official. On the ensuing rush, Lafreniere was called for a slash while Ryan Lindgren, making his return from a single-game absence, also went off for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The five-on-three penalty bled into the final period, where the Rangers would impressively keep the Coyotes off the scoreboard.
New York would capitalize on the momentum from the penalty on their powerplay when Vincent Trocheck sent a wrister past Connor Ingram for the 2-1 lead. Protecting the lead would not come easy for the Blueshirts though. A breakaway penalty on Barclay Goodrow would set up Jason Zucker with a penalty shot with under five to play.
Shesterkin would be more than up to the task.
The former Vezina winner’s one-on-one save would continue his dominance on penalty shots (4-4 career-wise) and keep the lead with the Rangers. It would also effectively end any hope the Coyotes had of making a comeback which resulted in the home crowd Blueshirts happy with an opening night win.
“I think overall defensively has been really solid, and we found a way to win,” Trocheck explained. “That’s all that matters.”
New York’s home opening victory moved them to 2-1-0 on the young season with their next game coming at Madison Square Garden Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.
- Ryan Lindgren returned to the starting lineup after missing Saturday’s contest in Columbus with an upper-body injury. He was a game-time decision leading into the contest but took his place once puck-drop began.
- Kreider’s first-period goal meant that he had scored in each of the Rangers’ first three games of the season. The longest season-opening goal streak in franchise history is shared between Rick Nash (4 GP in 2014-15) and Mika Zibanejad (4 GP in 2017-18) according to Rangers PR.
- Trocheck’s powerplay goal in the third was the Rangers’ third powerplay goal in their first three games. It’s the 13th time in team history that has happened and the first since the 2005-06 season.
- Outside of his big save on a penalty shot, it was a dominant day from Shesterkin. The Russian goaltender tallied 26 saves on 27 shots for his second win of the year.