Game #27: Prince George stands on his head, Panarin gets winner in return

Alexandar The Great: It was a show from goalie Alexandar Georgiev that allowed the Rangers to win Artemi Panarin’s return by a score of 3-2 over the Blue Jackets. AP Photo credit New York Rangers

Some pictures are worth a thousand words. If you look closely at the one above courtesy of the much improved Rangers Twitter, you can see all the players on both sides competing hard while Alexandar Georgiev makes one of his 45 saves. On this night which was special for Artemi Panarin, who returned to Columbus and received a video tribute along with some jeers and cheers, it was the virtuoso performance from Alexandar The Great that allowed the Rangers to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.

I told you earlier that I was probably not going to be around. It turned out that I caught the tying goal from Brendan Lemieux on the radio with eight seconds left in the first period. I didn’t catch much else. But my brother had the game on his phone via the MSG Go App. So, he kept me posted even though I knew the Blueshirts led 3-1 despite being badly outplayed and outshot. The shots wound up 47-19 Columbus. Sheer lunacy.

Based on the amount of tweets the Rangers used to highlight how good Georgiev was, it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what happened. After shutting out the Devils the previous Saturday, he came back five days later and stole a game for his team that they didn’t deserve. Justin told me a few times that Columbus should’ve tied it. Prince George to the rescue. Good for him. He earned plenty of kudos from what I gathered on MSG. It’s about time.

Below, I’m going to look at some of Georgiev’s finest work that earned the Rangers the win.

Obviously, being able to quickly get across laterally for that rebound and kick out the puck that was ticketed for a goal is very impressive. Your basic two pad stack.

I like how he is able to reach over and athletically put the glove out in the right spot to make the big save. Just great instincts. That’s a goalie in the zone. We talk about it all the time. But just getting rid of Georgie would be a mistake. I know time is running out before he hits 60 starts. But they should keep playing him and rotate with Henrik Lundqvist. They don’t have to rush up Igor Shesterkin. Development is essential. So is patience.

You think his teammates don’t know what happened. Sometimes, you need your goalie to steal it. He did. Goalies get a lot of love for such great games.

The coolest thing I like from the interview is how calm he is. He is very composed and explains himself well. Did the shutout help? He basically said it did. It was a confidence boost. He talked about how he tries to stay calm despite facing that kind of pressure. It’s definitely not easy. It’s astonishing how any team could’ve signed Georgiev. The Rangers saw something and he’s certainly helped the team and himself. Benoit Allaire is the best in the business.

Let’s take a look at the three goal scorers. Plus a bit more insight.

Look at all the grunt work Mika Zibanejad did to set up Lemieux on this crucial tying goal with less than 10 seconds left in the first period. Ditto for Kaapo Kakko, who was looking for some love during the goal celebration. Great angle too giving fans a unique perspective of how tough hockey can be along the boards. Take the hit to make the play. Here’s a different view:

That’s just splendid work by Zibanejad to find Lemieux, who as usual put himself in the right area to get the shot off and score. That’s why he’s the Grate One. He’s got that extra ingredient that helps teams win.

This was a power play goal off the stick of Jacob Trouba. He’s starting to come around. He’s definitely the workhorse of the young blueline. This is a tough and physical player too, who doesn’t mind getting the jersey dirty. If he winds up around 40 points with double digit goals along with the hits and blocked shots, it says a lot about his character. I’ve been critical at times on him, but he’s a gamer. Here is what he said on getting a game that was stolen:

He’s right. Sometimes, you have to find different ways to win. Even if that means stealing two points. Something he referenced at one of Lundqvist’s recent performances. Having two good goalies can really help. Especially during a long winter. And given the nature of the defense which was down one man due to a knee sprain to Libor Hajek, Georgiev got it done.

You know how much this meant to Panarin. He still has some fans that love him. Plus he wound up getting the game-winner on a well executed play.

Brett Howden started that play in the corner. Then that man Tony DeAngelo got the puck over to a wide open Bread Man for a quick one-timer and a bang for number 13 late in the second period. Keep criticizing Tony Dee. He’ll just keep putting up points by making brilliant passes like that to put the frauds in their place. Here’s some old but friendly advice. Duck and cover!

Panarin gets it. He understands the situation. Even if there were some boos mixed in. I see him as just a soft spoken and nice superstar. I wish he spoke more English. He’d be a great player to market. Plus he’s Russian. You got enough Russians living in NYC. Like out here or in Brighton Beach. Очень хорошо Артеми!

Speaking of great replays, have a look at this beautiful ice level view of Seth Jones going around Pavel Buchnevich to take the puck to the tin and beat Georgiev to cut it to 3-2. Terrific stuff. And the goal horn to boot.

I read that Joe Micheletti blamed Buchnevich for the goal. Well, it was one on one and he lost Jones. So, not much disagreement. As I’ve said regarding Buch, defense isn’t his strong suit. He’s gotta put up the points. He’s in a slump.

That’s the essence and embodiment of hockey. It’s a physical sport. Nothing dirty here either. Just two players competing hard along the boards during a check. Hockey is passionate. That’s what fans love. It’s a battle.

A nice video montage of Panarin doing what he does best. His two years in Columbus were great. I love the Bread Man nickname. It’s him. I really have a new appreciation for how special the diminutive left wing is. He’s very smart and knows how to get open while also creating space for teammates. This is a player who has a high IQ. Had he entered the league sooner, could he have been a Hall of Fame superstar like some of the other great Russian hockey players we’ve seen? I don’t see why not.

Kudos to the Columbus Blue Jackets organization on their recognition of what John Davidson meant to the current construct of the franchise. He made them better in his seven years spent as Team President of Hockey Operations. JD is a great man! Love the song selection too. Foreigner’s “Double Vision.”

It wouldn’t be complete without some thoughts from the always interesting former Rangers coach John Tortorella. Torts doesn’t pull any punches. He clearly felt the Blue Jackets beat themselves. He’s probably not wrong. They outshot the Rangers badly, but gave up a goal in the last eight seconds and also cost themselves on a bad line change which explains why Panarin was so open for the game decider.

When you lose the talent they lost in Panarin, Matt Duchene and even Ryan Dzingel, it hurts. There’s no margin for error. Joonas Korpisalo actually has played better than Sergei Bobrovsky. Go figure. They’re probably going to finish seventh due to not having enough in a ultra competitive division. They certainly compete hard for Torts. I wonder how much longer he’ll stick around.

Battle Of Hudson 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Brendan Lemieux, Rangers (5th of season at 19:52 of 1st tied score, 3 hits and a blocked shot in 15:26)

2nd 🌟 Artemi Panarin, Rangers (team leading 13th for game-winner, 5 shots in 8 attempts, 2 takeaways, +1 in 19:41)

1st 🌟 Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (45 saves on 47 shots including 17 of 18 in a lopsided 3rd)

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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