That was badly needed. For two periods, the Rangers outplayed the Red Wings for stretches, but could only come away even on the scoreboard. However, a six-goal outburst in a decisive third period lead to an 8-2 win over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena to avenge Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss.
By erupting for six goals including a ridiculous four over a 2:57 span to break open a tie game, they delivered their most dominant period of the season. The offensive explosion put an end to a three-game winless streak (0-2-1). It was am important victory for a fragile team that needed it for their confidence.
The Rangers got big performances from Adam Fox and Barclay Goodrow. They keyed the huge win by combining for seven points. Fox scored the game-winner and added three assists for a statement game from the offensive leader on the blue line. Goodrow notched a goal and two helpers including his third of the season coming 1:21 after Fox converted a Filip Chytil back pass to make it a two-goal lead.
This time, they didn’t let up. Mika Zibanejad got his second of the contest (team-leading ninth) 50 seconds later. Then, Goodrow stole a puck and had his centering feed bank off Julien Gauthier for four consecutive goals in less than three minutes to break it open.
Libor Hajek would add his first on a fluky play and Jimmy Vesey put the exclamation point on the triumph by converting shorthanded to make it six unanswered for the Blueshirts.
The offensive fireworks were all in support of Igor Shesterkin, who for once had an easy night by stopping 18 of 20 shots to pick up his seventh win. He’s accounted for all seven wins so far. Though backup Jaro Halak has deserved better in a couple of starts. Hopefully, he gets a win next time out.
In what felt like a must win game despite it only being the 15th game of 82, coach Gerard Gallant adjusted his lineup once more. This time, he wisely reunited the cohesive First Round Pick Line. That meant putting together Filip Chytil between Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. They played well throughout contributing four assists while playing strong at five-on-five.
As expected, Artemi Panarin was back with Vincent Trocheck and Vitaly Kravtsov added to the second line. It was the best Kravtsov’s looked. He picked up his first point of the season by helping set up the Goodrow goal. A dazzling pass made by Panarin, who remains one of the game’s best passers.
Gallant decided to go back to Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on the top line. Vesey got the nod on the right side and performed well. He was in on the second Zibanejad goal. It was a strong game for Vesey, who finished with a goal and assist. Welcome production from unlikely sources on a night it bounced their way.
Goodrow anchored the checking line between Sammy Blais and Gauthier, who returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game versus the Islanders. Unlike most of the first 14 games, the fourth line was a factor. They forechecked and created two goals. The way Gauthier and Blais have played lately, there’s no reason for Ryan Reaves to play. Ryan Carpenter also looks like an extra center with Chytil finally back.
Ryan Lindgren also returned from a two-game absence due to what he termed a ‘minor injury’ from the David Pastrnak blindside hit. He helped stabilize the back end by reuniting with Fox on the top pair. He played 16:51 including 2:46 on the penalty kill while posting a plus-three rating with two blocked shots.
As expected, Hajek stayed in the lineup and paired up with Braden Schneider while Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller remained together. Of the three pairings, it was again the key second tandem that got caught on for a goal against to make it interesting. An errant Miller pass lead to Dylan Larkin setting up Lucas Raymond to make it 2-1 Red Wings.
Fortunately, the Rangers responded to being behind. Kakko drew a slashing minor on Oskar Sundqvist. Kreider would tip home a perfect pass from Panarin for his second straight game with a power play goal. A brilliant play from Fox that included a spin-a-rama at the point to pass over for Panarin is what allowed for the big tying goal with 9:01 left in the second period.
Despite a huge edge in play where they made the Red Wings play a lot in their end, the score remained tied. Detroit starter Ville Husso made some key saves. He stopped nine of 10 shots. On the flip side, Shesterkin only faced four with one getting past him. That wasn’t his fault.
In the first period, it was the reconstructed Blueshirts who had the edge. However, they weren’t able to break through until Zibanejad buried a Fox pass in the slot for his first even strength goal at 15:40. Playing in his 700th career game, he beat Larkin on an offensive draw. Then, got open where Fox set up a one-timer past Husso to make it 1-0.
Following some more pressure from the top line with Kreider getting a shot on Husso, the Red Wings responded 3:06 later to knot the score. On a play where nobody picked up Veleno in the slot, he beat Shesterkin on a shot off a feed from rookie Jonatan Berggren to tie it with 1:14 left.
It was another late goal allowed that tarnished a good road period. Even with a better effort, they only had six shots compared to the Red Wings’ seven. They came on late.
Off some sustained pressure, Chytil earned a Rangers power play when Adam Erne hooked him early in the second period. The Red Wings did a good job on the penalty kill taking away the blue line. When the Rangers finally got set up, the best chance came on a Kreider pass for a Trocheck shot that missed wide.
After the man-advantage expired, Kravtsov had two chances to score. His first shot was blocked. The second one was denied by Husso. On both, he was directly in front.
The Red Wings came back with a strong shift. After Shesterkin stopped Seider, Miller had time behind his net to make a play. Instead, he forced a pass that had no chance for Kravtsov. Instead, Larkin picked up the loose puck and centered for Raymond who scored his sixth to put Detroit ahead at 7:33.
At the halfway mark, Chytil came back on the back check to help break up a Red Wings rush. After getting out of their zone, Kakko was slashed twice by Sundqvist to draw a key penalty.
On the power play, the Rangers got set up quickly. After another Trocheck chance that Husso made a good kick save on, Fox spun around at the point and passed for Panarin in the circle. He made a diagonal feed across for a Kreider tip-in to tie the score at 10:59. It gave him a seven-game point streak (4-5-9). He’s definitely responded since the fourth line demotion this past Sunday. Kreider is now up to six goals and seven assists for 13 points.
A few minutes later, Kreider drew another power play behind the Detroit net when Ben Chiarot tripped him. For two full minutes, the top unit had the puck in the offensive zone. However, Husso made two saves on Zibanejad and Trocheck. He got help from his penalty killers who blocked shots and did just enough to prevent more.
On an offensive shift for the second line, Kravtsov was stopped by Husso in the slot. He then gave chase behind the net. Seider had the puck, but fell down. Penalty called on Kravtsov for a phantom trip. He was right when he gestured to the ref that he didn’t take Seider down because he was already falling to the ice.
Before the period expired, Larkin fired wide. Good thing he did. It was a rocket. Old friend Andrew Copp also missed as time wound down. He didn’t have a good night finishing minus-three.
The game was still tied as they entered the all important third. After some early pressure from the Red Wings where Shesterkin made a couple of saves, the Rangers picked it up.
It took a David Perron miss to send the third line in transition. On a good rush started by Lafreniere to Chytil, the latter tried a back pass intended for a trailing Kakko. It went right to a pinching Fox, who fired a quick wrist shot past Husso for a 3-2 lead at 6:02.
That goal sparked a six-goal outburst. On the forecheck with Goodrow on for Trocheck, Kravtsov recovered a puck behind the net. After his first pass was blocked, his second came to Panarin in the corner. He made a great feed to a cutting Goodrow, who maneuvered around Husso to tuck a backhand in for a 4-2 lead.
Then, the first line had a dominant shift. Following Husso stops on Vesey and Zibanejad, a face-off win saw Lindgren fire wide. But they kept coming. On a strong drive from a determined Vesey, he forced Husso into two tough stops. The second rebound came to Zibanejad who put it in for his second of the game, giving the Blueshirts three goals in 2:11.
On a strong cycle from the checking line, Blais got the puck for Goodrow. He then sent it towards the net in the vicinity where Gauthier was. Initially, it looked like it banked off a Red Wings defenseman for another Goodrow goal. But replays showed that the puck also bounced off Gauthier for his second of the season with 11:01 to go.
With the game suddenly a rout, everything that could go their way did. On another positive shift from the third line, Hajek took a Chytil pass and let go of a shot that went off a Red Wings player past Husso to make it 7-2. Lafreniere also added a second helper. Both he and Chytil had two apples. They were very effective at even strength along with Kakko. That line shouldn’t be broken up. Keep them together.
With the game out of reach and Chytil off for cross-checking Seider, a Detroit mistake allowed the Blueshirts to come the other way for a shorthanded goal. The plat was started by Fox. He got the puck to Goodrow; who lead Vesey for a breakaway. He beat Husso with a good shot for his second of the season at 16:31.
That’s the kind of period it was. By far the best of the season. One this team needed desperately. They couldn’t afford another disappointment. This was the opposite.
The Red Wings helped the cause by falling apart. They melted down on home ice. Most of it was attributed to the Rangers. They played like it mattered. After the game, when he was given the Broadway Hat, Zibanejad told teammates to keep playing this way and they’ll turn the season around.
Next up is Nashville. They’re really struggling. Expected to be a serious contender, they’ve looked out of sorts. It didn’t help that they began the year playing in Europe against San Jose twice. Those games need to go.
The Predators aren’t defending well. In a lopsided 5-1 loss to the surprising Kraken, they gave up four goals on six shots early to send Juuse Saros to the showers. Ryan McDonagh was responsible for three goals against. He was supposed to solidify a good blue line that features Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Dante Fabbro.
A look at their roster and it’s chalk full of minuses and disappointing numbers for key stars including Josi (3-5-8/-11), Filip Forsberg (5 goals), Matt Duchene (3 goals), Ryan Johansen (8 points) and Tanner Jeannot (3-1-4). Saros is 3-6-1 with a 3.46 GAA and .892 save percentage.
Nashville is seventh in the Central Division with a 5-8-1 record for 11 points. They trail Winnipeg and Dallas by six points for first. Colorado has 15 points after winning 5-3 over the Preds on Thursday night. Despite their struggles, Nashville is a tough place to win. At any moment, they are capable of turning it around.
All the Rangers want to do is play a good road game and come out with two points. Get off to a quick start. Maybe get an early lead. Nashville doesn’t have much confidence. If they fall behind, maybe they fall apart like they did against Seattle. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night. The game is at 8 EST.