The kids are alright. A classic Beatles song is the perfect way to describe a Rangers 2-1 win over the Canucks at MSG. On a emotional night the organization paid tribute to all the men and women who served on Veteran’s Day, the team persevered to earn a hard fought one-goal victory on home ice.
In improving to 9-7-2, the rebuilding Rangers find themselves in second place in the Metropolitan Division. They have done it with good effort and sticking with it. There were some ugly moments in the game with the Canucks taking advantage of a mistake to take the lead. They nearly doubled it on another turnover, but Michael Del Zotto had his goal over turned due to his shot ringing off both goalposts and staying out. That kind of sums up his career.
Credit must be given to Cody McLeod, who fought Darren Archibald following Nikolay Goldobin’s first goal since opening night for Vancouver. McLeod not only won the fight, but had a strong message for his teammates. He yelled at them to wake up and said, “Let’s get going!” That kinda stuff is important to a young team when they’re struggling during a course of a game. They were flat to start the second period and needed a wake-up call.
Sometimes, luck helps. I thought for sure Del Zotto had scored on a good set up. But he hadn’t. That as much as anything helped the Blueshirts turn it around.
There was another key adjustment by the rookie coach that had an impact. Entering the match, David Quinn started rookie Filip Chytil on the fourth line. Ryan Spooner was on the top line and power play. That didn’t sit well with anyone who’s seen Spooner baffle with inconsistent play. Quinn didn’t wait around for Spooner to wake up. Instead, he made the change we all had been calling for. With Mats Zuccarello missing a third consecutive game with a groin issue, up went Chytil to the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Vladislav Namestnikov. Down went Spooner to the fourth line with McLeod and Vinni Lettieri.
Chytil had been the best forward all night. He made things happen, nearly scoring his first goal earlier on a great chance. He also set up a good scoring chance with a nice pass. It was obvious that the 19-year old Czech was hungry for the puck. Finally, on the power play, he made it happen when he pounced on a Neal Pionk rebound to score his first of the season at 12:42 to tie the game. It was well deserved. Chris Kreider and Pionk drew the assists. Kreider screened Jacob Markstrom and Pionk picked up his sixth power play assist.
It definitely turned the tide. The team played with more energy to outshoot the Canucks 10-7 in the second. A period that had lots of action and plenty of grit. There also were a few penalties including a bad one from Zibanejad. But a penalty to Markus Granlund 13 seconds later offset it. He was also called for one later with the team clinging to a one-goal lead. It was a bad call with Jake Virtanen embellishing it to give the Canucks one last chance. Something Steve Valiquette alluded to in the postgame.
In between viewing the Hockey Hall of Fame class on NHL Network with some great speeches from all the inductees including Marty St. Louis, Willie O’Ree and later an emotional and nervous Martin Brodeur, I caught the highlights of two big saves. Markstrom denied a Kreider bid on a break, and Henrik Lundqvist stoned lethal Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson from the right circle. Petterson may have been kept off the score sheet, but man is he fun to watch. Remarkably, he was at the top of the Rangers’ list in the 2017 NHL Draft with Lias Andersson second. If only he had slipped two more spots. No disrespect to Andersson, who looks like he’ll be a good one, working his tail off.
The defenses were stingy in the third. There wasn’t a lot of room. Credit to both teams for tightening up. As it turned out, the game-winner came from another young player with under nine minutes left.
Brett Howden has been nothing short of brilliant in his rookie season. While not as gifted as Pettersson, the do everything center does so many things well. Quinn and the coaching staff fully trust him to play in any type of situation. Off some hard work from his line, he took a Jimmy Vesey pass and surprised Markstrom with a quick one-timer for his fourth goal to give the Rangers the lead with 8:41 remaining.
Following a abysmal hooking call on Zibanejad with 1:15 left, the Rangers penalty kill got the job done. That included some strong work from Jesper Fast and Marc Staal to get a couple of crucial clears. The four skaters were very disciplined at the end, keeping Vancouver to the outside. Finally, Pettersson gave himself enough room to shoot low into Lundqvist, who also turned aside Bo Horvat on a rebound as time expired.
For Lundqvist, it was a fitting way to tie Jacques Plante in wins (437) for seventh on the NHL all-time list. He finished with 25 saves including stopping all 11 Vancouver shots in the third to preserve the win.
Three Rangers Stars 🌟
3rd 🌟 Henrik Lundqvist 25 saves including 11 of 11 in 3rd to tie Plante for seventh all-time in wins (437), 6-6-2 with a 2.54 GAA and .923 save percentage this season
2nd 🌟 Brett Howden 4th goal of season, game-winner with 8:41 left, +1 in 23 shifts (16:59) including 13:41 even strength, 2:20 power play and 58 seconds shorthanded
1st 🌟 Filip Chytil 1st goal of season on power play, game high 6 shots, 2 takeaways, Even Rating in 18 shifts (14:08) including 11:27 even strength and 2:41 power play
I guess Sam Darnold wanted to see what it’s like to have a good coach in a young rebuild.
Lundqvist climbing the list.
The Rangers rocked camouflage jerseys during warmups in a special Salute to The Troops.