DENVER — The Rangers came to Ball Arena on Friday night to win.
Against a beat-up Avalanche team, the Blueshirts took advantage and squeezed out two points with a 2-1 shootout win after Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin scored on their former teammate and current Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev. In front of a maroon-clad crowd that had several patches of blue sprinkled throughout, the Rangers snapped a four-game losing streak against the Avalanche.
If the Rangers were going to beat the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the circumstances entering Friday night were as good as ever. The Avalanche were without seven lineup regulars, including Nathan MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog, Evan Rodrigues, Bowen Byram and Artturi Lehkonen. The Rangers, on the other hand, were looking to stack their third straight win — which had only happened one other time this season until this current stretch.
The Rangers haven’t been able to get on a roll once this season. So many wins have been followed by disheartening losses. It is one of the stark differences between this season and last, when the Rangers stacked three to four victories at a time on several occasions.
But three wins in a row, including two over teams that are considered to be in the upper-echelon of the NHL, is certainly a way to set things in motion.
Goalie Igor Shesterkin got his revenge from the first time the Rangers faced the Avalanche, which also went to a shootout, but resulted in a loss. Shesterkin turned aside 41 of the 42 shots he faced in the win, which included denying J.T. Compher and Mikko Rantanen in the shootout.
Despite missing so many of their top players, the Avalanche didn’t skip a beat against the Rangers. Their ability to get shots off quickly and utilize their transition game to their advantage was still there. Off a faceoff win, Rantanen’s one-timer opened the scoring of the game in the first period.
The Rangers skated right with them in the middle frame, however, while managing to tie the game up after outshooting Colorado 15-13. On the rush, Artemi Panarin sent the puck back to a trailing Braden Schneider, who blasted it right through Georgiev less than five minutes into the second.
Schneider’s four goals since Nov. 22 are the most among NHL defensemen over that span.
There were only two penalties called all game and the first one was on Chris Kreider for holding former Ranger Dryden Hunt at 2:20 of the third period. The refs hadn’t called anything up until that point, including an obvious trip from Cale Makar on Barclay Goodrow, who jumped out on a breakaway and had his skates taken out from underneath him.
The second was a clear make-up call on Rantanen, who was sent to the penalty box later in the period for barely tripping Zibanejad.
Credit: Source link