Rangers Bounce Back After Slow Start

For the first time in two weeks, the Rangers finally played a game, and it showed. Tuesday night, the Blueshirts kicked off their start in the second half of the season against Original Six rival, the Boston Bruins.

The first twenty minutes was as sloppy a period they’ve played all season. Boston controlled the pace of the play for the majority of the first frame holding New York to just two shots on goal. The lone goal in the period came off a chaotic breakout where Barclay Goodrow passed back to a streaking Ryan Lindgren, who was exiting the zone and not expecting a back-pass. Charlie Coyle intercepted the intended pass, and a two-on-one unfolded. After the initial save by Igor Shesterkin, Coyle was able to put the rebound home for a Bruins 1-0 lead just under four minutes into the game. That one-goal lead would hold up for the next 43 minutes as both Jeremy Swayman and Shesterkin played very well.

You wouldn’t have noticed by watching the first period, but the Bruins were without two-thirds of the “Perfection Line.” Brad Marchand is serving part of his 6-game suspension, and Captain Patrice Bergeron sat out with a head injury. If you didn’t notice the two superstars missing in the first period, you would have in the second as the Rangers came out and peppered Swayman.

After 47 games this season, head coach Gerard Gallant finally decided to put an all-rookie 3rd defensive pairing together. Braden Schneider and Zac Jones rewarded their coach by not only playing mistake-free hockey, but both at times jumped up in the offensive zone creating scoring opportunities. In fact, their only regulation goal began with a D-to-D pass from Jones to Schneider. Schneider swung it out to Dryden Hunt, who found Filip Chytil streaking into the Boston zone. Chytil let go a quick wrister that Swayman initially stopped, but the much-maligned Chytil whacked in the rebound, tying the game with 13 minutes remaining. Chytil came off the IR and played one of his most complete games of the season. The Rangers’ third line was their best for most of the game and proved to be the difference-maker. Both teams would get a powerplay late in the 3rd, but neither could cash in on their lone chance sending the game into overtime.

Shesterkin and Swayman both played great in the first three periods, but their first 60 minutes paled in comparison to what happened during the five-minute overtime and eventual shootout. 3-on-3 overtime never disappoints, and Tuesday night was no exception. Swayman stopped a Panarin breakaway, Shesterkin said nyet on a cross-crease feed from Taylor Hall, and on and on and on they went until… the Rangers medical staff had to pull Shesterkin from the game with about .40 seconds remaining in the overtime period because of a collision that happened earlier in the frame. Rangers’ trainer Jim Ramsey looked like a young Billy Haywood trying to make a pitching change in the movie Little Big League. Irate, Shesterkin eventually left his crease and the ice, not before smacking his stick against the glass in a rare display of emotion from the 26-year-old. Alex Georgiev, who hadn’t skated since warmups three hours earlier, was sent in to play the last .40 seconds of 3-on-3.

Fortunately, the Rangers were able to keep the puck in the Boston end for the remainder of the period, and Shesterkin was cleared by concussion protocol before the shootout. He returned to his crease with chants of IGOR-IGOR-IGOR as Jake Debrusk came flying down the ice and pinned his shot in the top right corner. Zibanajed would answer with a deke that froze Swayman, tying the shootout. Panarin’s feet looked like they were having a seizure on the ice as he froze Swayman to stick in a backhand attempt. Charlie Coyle saved the Bruins with another goal, tying it again. After both goalies gave up two out of the first three shots in the shootout, they settled in and stopped the next 12 combined attempts. Swayman must have made about four saves in the shootout with his skate or the edge of his pads, but K’Andre Miller was able to slip one past his right foot in the 9th frame of the shootout for the win.

The Rangers will host the Red Wings on Thursday night at the Garden.

Luca Perito

Born and raised in New York. I've lived in Arizona, Maryland, Delaware, and California. Love all sports. Twitter @elbigcalzonelp -- Instagram @thebigcalzone

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