NYR 3, CAR 4 - Power Play Explosion Not Enough for Win

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Dave Rogers

Editor-in-Chief at Cleared for Contact
Writer, photographer and a lifelong New York Rangers hockey fan.
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Earlier today, the Rangers added Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash to their long list of injured players prior to their game against a Carolina Hurricanes team that’s far from a playoff position. With Lundqvist and Nash out, Raanta would get the start in goal, while Matt Puempel would draw back in. You might think that with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich losing Rick Nash from their unit that Chris Kreider might reunite to form the early season successful KZB line. You would be wrong, though. Head Coach Alain Vigneault would instead put J.T. Miller in Nash’s spot, with Puempel filling in with Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes.

The number of blue jerseys in the stadium and the reactions from the crowd made it seem like a home game for the Rangers. They probably would have preferred a more normal crowd, though, as they lead the league in wins on the road.

It would take a 5-on-3 power play in the first to break the Rangers long drought with the man advantage. Chris Kreider would score his 26th of the season on a pass from Derek Stepan after a scramble around the net.

Jeff Skinner scored the tying goal with just under 8:00 to go in the first period after a turnover inside the Rangers’ blueline. 29 seconds later, Valentin Zykov would score his first of his NHL career,  giving Carolina the 2-1 lead. Both Hurricane forwards would score after finding themselves all alone in front of Raanta with plenty of time to get the Ranger netminder out of position.

The Blueshirts would head to the locker room trailing a team that is 26 points behind them in the standings.

The Rangers would have the edge of the territorial play early in the second. They would get their second power play goal to tie the game, while a Carolina player was off for closing his hand on the puck. Stepan fired a point shot that Cam Ward would leave a rebound on that would then be found and fired in the net by Zibanejad. Kreider had the other assist.

The Rangers would get two more power plays in the second period. They failed to convert on the first of those attempts, but Zibanejad would bury a shot from the slot unassisted for his second of the game on the Rangers’ next attempt with the man advantage.

Despite an Oscar Lindberg hooking penalty which would last most of the final two minutes of the period, the Rangers would take the 3-2 lead into the third. The Hurricanes managed just 12 shots on goal through two periods.

During the second intermission, former Rangers’ backup goalie and current analyst Steve Valiquette would say that “Cam Ward was the 30th best starting goalie in the league”. It’s hard to argue, as he has failed to control rebounds, often leaving them right around his crease.

Carolina came out to start the period looking to tie. They peppered Raanta with shots over the first quarter of the period, but he stood tall. They would eventually draw a penalty as Nick Holden got called for a trip at 8:30. The Hurricane’s survived a coach’s challenge as they tied the game on a point shot on the 5-on-4 advantage, even though Raanta clearly took an elbow to the head from Lindholm just prior to the goal entering the net, which somehow the referees ignored on the review. If fans are going to have to sit through these sometimes lengthy reviews, it would be nice if they could get the call correct.

The league would let the announce team know that the ruling was that Raanta was out of the crease on the play and initiated contact with the Carolina player. Video evidence clearly shows otherwise, however, with both of Raanta’s skates firmly in the crease. Perhaps the league attends the Donald Trump school of alternative facts.

After dominating much of the game, the Rangers would find themselves under siege. They would again give Carolina a power play and pay as 19-year-old rookie Sebastian Aho scored his second of the game, and 20th of the season on a beautiful passing play to take back the lead.

The Rangers would come close to tying it when Stepan, who hasn’t scored in 22 games, rang one off the post. They would pull their goalie for the extra attacker with just over a minute to go but would be unable to find the back of the net, falling 4-3.

Assorted Musings: After going 0-26 over their past ten games, the Rangers would score three power play goals on six attempts; with a goal and an assist Chris Kreider tied his career high in points at 46; Derek Stepan had ten shots on goal; the Rangers five-game road winning streak was snappped.

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