I’m not much for superstition. Though I do have my OCD rituals. Game number 13 turned out to be a lucky one. It also had two repetitions from the other night. Like the crazy win at San Jose, the Rangers needed a shootout to prevail in Anaheim last night 3-2. Also similar, they blew a one goal lead in the final minute of regulation to be pushed into extras.
So far, so good for the Rangers, who improved to a perfect 3-0 in shootouts. Thursday’s heroes were Alexandar Georgiev, Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad. Georgiev went two-for-two in the skill competition to improve to 2-1-0 in three starts. He also was superb in the first 65 minutes, making 28 saves. Zuccarello and Zibanejad each beat John Gibson on wrist shots with wiggle room in the first two rounds. Georgiev stopped Pontus Aberg and Ryan Getzlaf to pick up the victory.
The game wasn’t as good as the wild and wacky 4-3 win over the Sharks. Coach David Quinn was proud of the guys for toughing one out to finish the four-game road trip 2-2. They were tired, but competed well enough to be in a winning position with under a minute left in regulation. The blown lead hex struck again when following a Tony DeAngelo turnover, Getzlaf found Rickard Rakell wide open for the tying goal with 26 seconds left.
Despite having the better of the play in the three-on-three overtime by getting three of the four shots, they were unable to beat Gibson, taking it to the shootout. Not the greatest way to settle extra points, it is what it is. In this case, the Rangers shooters were better than the Ducks, who have now dropped seven straight games (0-4-3). You can see why they’re struggling. Cam Fowler came close to ending it, but his shot hit the post.
Neither Zuccarello nor Zibanejad tried dekes instead opting to simplify their approach with good snap shots that beat Gibson. Zuccarello went through the wickets and Zibanejad found just enough real estate to beat Gibson short side to clinch the victory.
Following a scoreless first period that saw the teams dead even in shots (7-7), the play picked up in the second. The Rangers got on the board first thanks to some good work behind the net from rookie Filip Chytil. His second effort resulted in a centering feed that deflected off rookie Brett Howden right to Kevin Hayes, who finished off his third for a nice power play goal. It was a good play by the trio.
The Ducks were able to even it up on their own power play. With DeAngelo off for interference, Anaheim worked the puck around for a Rakell one-timer that a sharp Georgiev stopped with a great reflex save. However, the rebound caromed into the air which allowed Jakob Silfverberg to bat it in for the tying power play tally. Getzlaf set it up.
Less than two minutes later, a excellent shift by the Howden line resulted in a go-ahead goal from the 20-year old center. Off a good forecheck, Marc Staal made a good shot pass in front for Jimmy Vesey, who made an even better one touch redirection pass to a wide open Howden for a tap in at 14:29. That gave him a goal and assist. He continues to perform well for the Rangers. The ex-Lightning prospect wins over 50 percent of his face-offs. He went 10-and-7 yesterday.
In the third, it was obvious that the Blueshirts didn’t have much left. They tried to protect the lead. It wasn’t that they sat back. Anaheim had more energy. It still looked like they were doing a good job by limiting the Ducks to seven shots for most of the period. The Rangers had four.
Then came the final frantic minute. With a chance to clear the zone, DeAngelo panicked by holding onto the puck in the corner. Eventually, Anaheim recovered it to set up a last ditch effort with Gibson pulled for an extra attacker. Getzlaf held the puck and patiently waited before sending a perfect pass across for a Rakell laser top shelf that tied the game. Brady Skjei lost his man due to puck watching. He wasn’t alone.
Georgiev stoned Kiefer Sherwood on a break in overtime. Then came the shootout. Zuccarello and Zibanejad made no mistake. The Rangers improved to 5-7-1 after 13 games. Not bad considering only one win has come in regulation. They host Buffalo this Sunday night at 7 PM.