Georgiev steals the show in epic 44 save shutout of Hurricanes, Kreider gets number 41 in 2-0 victory for tired Rangers

It was stolen. Plain and simple. Alex Georgiev put on a show. His 44 save masterpiece allowed the Rangers to come away with a 2-0 shutout over the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Sunday evening.

For over two periods, it literally was Georgiev who held up his end. The much maligned backup was unbelievable in pitching his seventh career shutout. The 44 saves actually fall 11 shy of 55 he made in a win versus the Maple Leafs on Feb. 10 2019.

A time when it looked like Georgiev could become the next in line after Henrik Lundqvist. That was before Igor Shesterkin. It’s hard to believe he once faced 56 shots and beat Toronto at MSG only allowing one goal. His dominance over the Leafs is well documented.

How did last night compare? It’s right there. He made so many great saves while facing a Canes’ onslaught during this game. Honestly, it didn’t feel like one until the final part of the third period. By then, Georgiev finally got some support from some weary teammates who played less than 20 hours after an emotional win in Tampa.

To a man, the players would tell you they weren’t at their best in the second of a tough back-to-back on the road. Especially after getting into Carolina late. It was the third game over four nights. It wasn’t a surprise that they struggled mightily.

It’s one thing to be outplayed. It’s another to get dominated the way they did. Despite being outshot 14-3 and 28-4 at one point (no joke), they were in it for one reason. The brilliance of Georgiev. He was locked in. Nothing broke his concentration in this one. Not even the return of former Ranger Tony DeAngelo.

When the shots reached 28 to 4, Sam Rosen remarked to Joe Micheletti about how unbelievable it was. They both laughed at the extreme difference in shots. Rope a dope was referenced by Micheletti. A John Davidson favorite back in the glory days. It was a good description of the hockey.

Unable to mount any forecheck, they really were on their heels throughout. The Canes came at them in cycles with their relentless attack. The Rangers spent extended shifts defending in their end. They got fenced in for long stretches.

It was a tough game for Braden Schneider. The 20-year old defenseman has spoiled us so far. But he definitely battled at Tampa and Carolina. There were some turnovers that resulted in uncharacteristic penalties. Something he doesn’t do a lot of. Maybe he’s hitting a rookie wall. Patrik Nemeth is holding up that pair at the moment.

With it officially the trade deadline later this afternoon, the Rangers could still be in play for some players. Having already added Frank Vatrano, whose empty netter sealed the win yesterday, it’s possible Team President and GM Chris Drury could be in the market for one more forward and another defenseman to improve team depth.

Late last night, the Jets reaccquired Mason Appleton from the Kraken for a mid-round pick. The rumors are hot that much coveted forward Andrew Copp could be dealt for a pair of second round picks. Considering the market, he’s probably worth it. A good secondary scorer who can forecheck and finish checks, he checks off all the boxes.

If the Rangers got him for a package of Julien Gauthier and two second picks, I’d be excited. If not him, what about Artturi Lehkonen from the Canadiens? He’s got another year left until he turns unrestricted. I would imagine Jeff Gorton wants more for the checking wing. Likely a good prospect. If there’s a deal to be made that makes sense, I’m sure Drury will do it.

When you watch a game like last night, it makes you wonder if they can survive a grueling seven-game first round series. Of course, playing on two straight days in less than a 24-hour period doesn’t help. That won’t happen in the playoffs. For those complaining about the schedule, they aren’t the only team who’s had to do that.

What I’m basically saying here is tough crap. Think about how many days they had off in February while other teams had to make up many games. They were lucky in that aspect. So, can it about the schedule conspiracy. It’s worse than some of the other theories out there. Way more serious mind you. Unless we’re discussing the JFK Conspiracy. I’m a big history buff. That I could talk about all day.

As far as the game went, it was all about Alex Georgiev. He was the best he’s looked all season. In fact, this was his best game in two years. He struggled most of last season too following what happened with DeAngelo. He was making the tough saves to bail out teammates and had good rebound control.

Magnificent is one way to describe what the 26-year old netminder did. For one day, he was Alexander The Great. Time and time again, he turned away the Canes. They had to be shaking their heads. This wasn’t the same goalie they lit up for six goals on 35 shots two months ago.

Instead, there was an intense focus. He never broke all night. Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov had point blank scoring chances. They were turned away. So was former Ranger Derek Stepan. Jordan Staal had a couple of dangerous opportunities that were thwarted. So did Martin Necas.

Nothing went in for the Canes. They couldn’t beat Georgiev. He was impenetrable. Whatever he had to do, he did. There was even a ridiculous sprawling save that defied logic midway through. This was all about the forgotten guy. Someone who’s gotten plenty of criticism. Some warranted. Some ridiculous.

Good for him. Georgiev made his statement. This was a virtuoso performance from a backup who wants to become a number one goalie in this league. It was eye opening. The Canes also had three power plays. Their seven shots were denied. They had looks. It didn’t go in.

If you could give him all three stars, Georgiev deserved it. He still needed a huge Chris Kreider goal on a remarkable deflection of a Jacob Trouba shot with 4:21 left in the second period to even up his record to 9-9-2.

Kreider’s 41st was sheer determination. How he was able to redirect it and score I’ll never know. But as soon as Alexis Lafreniere passed up top for the Trouba shot, I knew they were scoring. Sometimes, you can tell. That was the shift to make it happen on. They made the most of it.

As lopsided as the play was at five-on-five, the Blueshirts were able to close out the game in better fashion. For a while in the third period, it looked like they could barely skate. They were gassed. Gallant admitted it in the postgame. There wasn’t a lot left in the tank.

But after a series of clutch stops from Georgiev, they finally started to make some good defensive plays in the neutral zone. That led to some sustained pressure in the second half of the final period.

You saw Artemi Panarin hustling back defensively and chipping pucks in. There was the tenacity of Barclay Goodrow, who went right at Svechnikov after he took a run at Nemeth during a shift. Goodrow was effective along with Filip Chytil and Dryden Hunt. He’s been worth his salary.

Speaking of Chytil, he had a goal disallowed due to the refs blowing the whistle. They thought Freddie Andersen had a puck covered. He didn’t. All they could do was apologize to Gallant at the bench. Human error. Turk understood. It’s a lot easier when your team wins.

The Canes got 15 shots in the third. But after holding a huge 29-10 edge through two periods that once was 28-4, they did give up some chances. Andersen made a few key saves in the period to keep it at one goal. The Rangers had eight shots in the period after totaling only 10 during the first two.

Their effort was better. They did enough to take the heat off Georgiev, who was under siege. Hunt had another strong game. He was aggressive throughout and finished checks. It also was a good game for Ryan Strome, who hit a goalpost on a power play and led the team with five shots.

The Rangers had a lot of hits throughout. They had to take the body while doing all that back pedaling. Something Micheletti pointed out during the MSG broadcast. Four different players registered at least four hits. Trouba paced them with four in another busy game where he and partner K’Andre Miller defended well. They were physical.

As a team, they blocked 23 Carolina shots. That’s part of the job description when you’re stuck in your zone. Georgiev called it a “team shutout.” It was. But he was the reason they won. They were out-attempted 94-36. It didn’t matter. You can take all the silly analytic nonsense and throw it in the garbage.

At least for one night anyway. Is this how they can win games in May? No. They’ll have to play more like they did against the Lightning and Islanders. Controlling the neutral zone. Limiting mistakes. Applying a consistent forecheck. That will help prevent them from playing too much in their end. Plus special teams. They have the goaltending. But you can’t over rely on it.

A Mika Zibanejad face-off win against Aho in the defensive zone saw him make the play defensively by clearing the puck off the boards. That allowed Vatrano to pull away and score his first as a Ranger into a vacated Canes’ net at 19:18.

I never got the sense Carolina would tie it. So brilliant was Georgiev that even with all their shots and attempts, they over passed at times. That’s what happens when you run into a hot goalie. 🔥

This was Georgiev’s night. Kudos to him for coming in with a great mindset. It was great to see. He got a lot of love from happy teammates. They know it’s been a challenging year for him. That start should keep Georgie here through the end of the season.

Battle Of Hudson Three Stars 🌟 🤩 ✨️

3rd 🌟 Chris Kreider NYR team best 41st goal for game-winner on great deflection, won face-off that led to goal, 3 hits, +2 in 16:15

2nd 🌟 Jacob Trouba NYR assisted on Kreider goal, 5 hits, 2 blocks, +2 in 23:43 including team high 19:48 even strength

1st 🌟 Alex Georgiev NYR 44 saves for 7th career shutout, a masterpiece

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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