|NYR 4, NSH 3
|Game | Event | Play-by-Play | FO Sum. | FO Comp. | TOI – NYR | TOI – NSH | Shot Report | Shift Chart|
From the drop of the puck, this game was going to be a battle. Michael Grabner and Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis chased down a puck in the Predators’ end and both went heavily into the boards, staying down on the ice, though they would eventually both get back to their feet and stay in the game.
Both teams exchanged chances in the first period, with the Rangers suffering from some poor defensive decisions. Adam Clendening, who drew into the lineup to replace the injured Dan Girardi who couldn’t go after a shot block in the previous game against Anaheim that required stitches, turned the puck over in his own zone a few times. Nick Holden also had a bad giveaway from below the goal line that turned into a high-quality scoring chance that went off the post. The only scoring came from the Predator’s fourth line when Cody McLeod was left alone in front on a point shot. Hank made the save through a screen, but no one was there to contest the rebound and McLeod put the puck home. Offensively for the Rangers, the J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner line and the Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad lines were buzzing in the first. Rick Nash also had a strong shift where he drove the net and got off a great scoring chance that was stopped by the Predator’s netminder, Jusse Saros.
The Rangers came out strong in the second period, but Captain Ryan McDonagh took the game’s first penalty. A few seconds into the penalty kill, Nash had an attempted clear blocked along the boards and the puck rebounded out into the slot and onto the stick of Calle Jarnkrok who quickly fired the puck past Henrik Lundqvist for a 2-0 lead.
Not long after, Ryan Johansen was stopped on a partial breakaway. The puck went back the other way and Miller got in quickly behind the net and forced a Predator’s defender to move the puck up the boards. That pass deflected to Hayes who took it to the front of the net, then passed it back against the grain to Grabner who cashed in on his 26th of the season, and like that, the Rangers come back would be on.
The Rangers got their first power play of the game when Roman Josi clipped Zibanejad with a high stick, although the refs called it a slash. The Predators pressured hard on the penalty kill, but the Rangers ran them around. Stepan made a good cross-ice pass to Zuccarello for a one-timer but Saros came up with a big stop. Later on the power play, Zuccarello fed Zibanejad coming out from behind the net. He went to his backhand to try to push the past around and by Saros, but the puck just missed the far post.
“Miller, Hayes and Grabner are so good.” That’s a straight line from my game notes. Grabner lifted Josi’s stick as he crossed the blue line and Hayes swooped in to take the puck. Hayes headed to Saros’ left and the defender gave him too much room. He waited, and waited until the goaltender was fully committed, then fed a beauty across to Miller who buried it to tie the game.
The Predators pressed as Brady Skjei was called for tripping late in the second. Nashville fired off two quick shots on goal before the Rangers were able to clear the puck out of the zone. Later in the power play, Johanson had a quick one-timer off a cross-ice feed but Hank came across to make the save and Rangers killed off the penalty and ended the period tied 2-2.
Early in the third period, Clendening made up for some of his defensive mishaps early in the game. He broke up a two-on-one by going down to take the pass away and then blocked the shot with his leg to earn a stick tap from Lundqvist. In the offensive zone, both Fast and Hayes tried to surprise Soros by just throwing quick shots on net. It seemed like something might have been discussed regarding that strategy in between periods.
The Rangers gave up some high-quality chances off mistakes in coverage. Johanson, who had plagued the Rangers in their own zone all night, missed the net off a feed from Filip Forsberg, and James Neil got a good shot away that Hank stopped on a two-on-one.
About six minutes into the final frame, the Rangers threw a puck around the net where Zuccarello took it off the boards, flinging it towards the net. Kreider crashed the net and the puck deflected in for his 22nd of the season—a career high. Predators head coach Peter Laviolette challenged the goal in the hopes it’d be waived off due to the play being offside, but ultimately lost the call, and his timeout as a result.
On a bit of a bizarre play, Ryan McDonagh took a high stick behind the Rangers net with about 11 minutes to go in the third. The stick got caught up in his jersey and then under his visor for a few seconds, but somehow both referees missed it.
The Predators pressed hard after that and had the Rangers pinned in their zone for a few minutes. Then the momentum shifted and the Rangers began to defend better. Alain Vigneault replaced Jimmy Vesey with Jesper Fast to try rolling out a more defensive unit. The Miller, Hayes and Grabner line did it again. On a shift where they cycled the Predators out of position, McDonagh was able to sneak in from his point and get a close in, bad angle shot that Saros stopped, but the rebound bounced in off of Miller’s leg for the 4-2 lead.
With over three minutes to go in the game, the Predators pulled Saros for the extra attacker and almost immediately drew an interference penalty on Skjei in front of the net. They would score their second on the power play a minute later and cut the lead to 4-3 with two minutes to go in the game. They controlled play and pulled their goalie again, attempting to tie the game. The final minute, though, belonged to the Rangers as they continued to deny the Predators entry into the offensive zone and managed to hold on for the comeback win.
Henrik Lundqvist is one win away from his 400th regular season win of his career. Miller has a five-game point scoring streak (nine points). Hayes has four assists in the two games since coming back from injury. Grabner, who leads the league in goals scored per 60 minutes (G/60) with 2.13, has three goals in last two games. Kreider has a five-game point-scoring streak (four goals, one assist).
The Rangers’ next game is Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche.