It would’ve been real easy to cave in following a last second Tomas Hertl goal that tied it. It would’ve been even easier for Henrik Lundqvist to lose concentration in the closing moments of a back and forth overtime and not snatch Brent Burns’ shot out of the air to take an emotional rollercoaster of a game to a shootout. He didn’t, showing the resolve the Rangers did in a 4-3 win over the Sharks.
Somehow, they swept the head to head series against a formidable opponent. Don’t ask how. I’m not even sure myself. Both games required extras with Brady Skjei winning the first game between the teams in overtime at MSG. This time, it was some shootout magic from Lundqvist and Kevin Shattenkirk that got them their fourth win of the season. Following a great save by Lundqvist to deny Joe Pavelski the five hole, Shattenkirk patiently outwaited Martin Jones, going to a backhand deke top shelf to win the game in the third round to plenty of excited teammates who poured off the bench to congratulate him.
You can usually tell a lot about a team by their character. After disappointing efforts in consecutive losses at Chicago and Los Angeles, the Rangers responded to coach David Quinn’s challenge. They played with more passion and matched the dangerous San Jose offense. It was a welcome change.
On a night Pavel Buchnevich didn’t play for the second time, the eighteen skaters and goalie worked hard. They peppered Jones early and often in a impressive first period. In direct response to a Sharks goal, Mats Zuccarello replied back with a long wrist shot surprising Jones for his third.
Even though they were unable to finish more of their chances, the Rangers stayed right with the Sharks for two periods. Lundqvist was busier in the second keeping the game tied at one entering the third.
What transpired was as unpredictable as a suspense thriller. With it being Halloween, that feels appropriate. Chris Kreider scored the first of his two goals when he was able to take a Skjei feed and sneak a one-timer off Jones’ pad and in for a lead. However, a crazy sequence would unfold that had Quinn upset. Following a big Lundqvist save, the Rangers went the other way and had a shot ring off the goalpost. Vinni Lettieri got trapped to create a two-on-one. Timo Meier made him pay by ripping a shot high off the far post to make it 2-2. He’s been on fire lately. It was his ninth.
But the game didn’t stay tied for long. Kreider was able to beat Jones down low for his second of the period to give the Rangers another one goal lead. It looked like they would hold on for the win in regulation.
Instead, an even nuttier sequence allowed San Jose to tie it. With the puck behind the Rangers net, Neal Pionk lost a battle allowing Logan Couture to come out with the puck. With time to spare, he quickly passed for an open Hertl, who in one motion turned and fired a laser past Lundqvist to beat the buzzer. Replays confirmed that he scored with 1.4 seconds left. Skjei was too late on the coverage, kneeling down while Hertl unloaded. Skjei should’ve stayed on his feet and checked Hertl.
It was a pretty devastating way to end regulation. I couldn’t it. I was doing my podcast with my friend and couldn’t contain myself. I couldn’t help but laugh at what happened. It still was going to OT.
The Rangers gave away an opportunity to win it thanks to a lousy four-on-three power play. Their passing sucked. So did their entries. It was the worst part of the game. I must’ve counted five San Jose clears with three skaters. Eventually, Kreider got nabbed with a iffy slashing minor to even it up near the end. It was pretty cheesy.
If not for Lundqvist’s desperation glove save on Burns’ final offering with under two seconds left, there is no shootout. Only a brutal defeat. Afterwards, Lundqvist admitted that he didn’t know if he could’ve survived the night had they lost in that fashion. He picked up the shot late and had enough concentration to make the clutch save.
The shootout saw most shooters get stopped in their tracks. Hertl tried a backhand that went over the top. Zuccarello was poke checked by Jones to deny his forehand tuck. Couture took a great shot, but Lundqvist easily gloved it down. Mika Zibanejad also tried a forehand deke, but made one too many moves to get stopped by Jones. Then came Pavelski, who skated in and got off a good wrister, but Lundqvist closed up the pads to set the stage for Shattenkirk. Here’s how it looked and sounded with an exciting call from the legendary Sam Rosen:
What a game! What a game! Indeed. It was the first road win of the season. The Rangers finish the four-game road trip in Anaheim.
Three Rangers Stars
3rd 🌟 Kevin Shattenkirk assist plus shootout winner
2nd 🌟 Henrik Lundqvist 31 saves plus 3 of 3 in shootout
1st 🌟 Chris Kreider 2 goals (5, 6)