It took a couple of weeks, but Vladimir Tarasenko had his seminal moment as a member of the New York Rangers on the eve of another major trade hitting the franchise.
Tarasenko accounted for each point the Rangers scored Wednesday night: his game-winning goal in overtime the decider in a 3-2 victory over the rival Flyers in Philadelphia.
“It was great to see. He had a nice opportunity and it was a real good night for him so that’s great.” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said after the win.
Tarasenko started out hot early in the City of Brotherly Love even if the rest of the team lagged behind. Early in the first period and on the powerplay, the former Blue found Mika Zibanejad who rocketed his 32nd goal of the year past Carter Hart for a 1-0 lead.
New York’s early edge would quickly dissipate though thanks to sloppy passing and poor defensive plays. New York committed three first-period penalties, the final one culminating in a goal by Owen Tippett. Tied at one going into the second period against one of the worst teams in the Metro division, any hope that the Rangers would come out with more energy was quickly dissipated. Philadelphia attacked Igor Shesterin and the five defensemen playing repeatedly. Scott Laughton would eventually find a way to get a goal past the reigning Vezina winner for a 2-1 lead for the Flyers after two.
“I thought we played pretty well in the first period but that second one was a stinker for us. We bounced back after that and had a really good third period and found a way to get two points.” Gallant added.
Bounce back they did. And leading the charge was Tarasenko, even if some plays weren’t by design. Midway through the third the newest member of the Rangers shot a desperation heave near the blue line which was deflected off Kreider’s stick to tie the game at two.
From there, the game went into overtime where Tarasenko found the finishing touch to send the Rangers home with two points.
“It’s very important to know how to do this, especially before the playoffs.” Tarasenko explained after the win. “I don’t think we should play like this. We can play better. Our second period wasn’t very good, but it’s very nice to come from behind and get a win.”
New York’s win moves them to 35-17-9 and supplanted in third place in the Metropolitan division. With the expectation of Patrick Kane entering the lineup, it’s a chance for New York’s undermanned unit to play with another top-deadline acquisition.
“I didn’t think about it during the game. He’s a great player. I had a chance to play against him, maybe too much sometimes. It’s very good he’s joining our team ad will make our team stronger.” Tarasenko concluded.
- The Rangers played short-handed once again and Patrick Kane wasn’t the sole reason for the difficult situation. K’Andre Miller sat through the first of a three-game suspension for spitting on Drew Doughty over the weekend, while Ryan Lindgren did not play due to an upper-body injury. Gallant has consistently maintained that Lindgren was still “day-to-day.”
- Zibanejad’s powerplay goal was the 100th of his career. Since entering the league, Zibanejad is seventh amongst active hockey players in powerplay goals.
- Tarasenko’s three point night was his first since December 23rd as a member of the St. Louis Blues. In total, he has accumulated four three-point games during the 2022-23 season.
- Artemi Panarin spoke for the first time after the acquisition of Patrick Kane saying “I was feeling good things. It’s awesome. He’s a great player and we played great together in Chicago.”