Buchnevich and Letang combine for winner as Rangers down Pens

December 6, 2017, by
jesper fast

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The Rangers and Penguins played in the Battle of the Backups last night, and it was a high scoring affair. The Rangers showed great resiliency, answering back each time the Penguins grabbed the lead. The eventual game winner was a fluke, as Pavel Buchnevich got a lucky bounce off Kris Letang’s skate for the winner. Combine that with about 57 posts for the Penguins, and it was a nail biting win.

This game was not pretty to watch. Both teams are a little challenged defensively and were playing their backup goalies. When two potent offenses square off in those situations, you get wide open hockey and a lot of goals. The win is huge for the Rangers, as they need to bank as many points as possible in the death trap that is the Metro Division.

On to the goals:

Pens 1, Rangers 0

The defense was a mess on this shift. Rick Nash swung and missed, allowing the puck to get through the crease to Patric Hornqvist. Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden were all over Sidney Crosby, who was almost in the net. That left Conor Sheary wide open about 3 feet away. He buried it in the empty net.

Rangers 1, Pens 1

Boo Nieves’ first NHL goal came off a Mats Zuccarello assist, as he chased down the puck in the corner after they gained the zone. Nieves was at the top of the circle when he received the pass, and used the defenseman as a screen to get the shot through Jarry.

Pens 2, Rangers 1

Another day, another blown assignment. Phil Kessel was left alone cutting to the slot, and Jake Guentzel simply had to feed him the puck. Brady Skjei, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Kevin Hayes all chased Evgeni Malkin cutting, which left Kessel wide open.

Rangers 2, Pens 2

Skjei took a good pass from Paul Carey to gain the zone, and drove to the net. Jarry made the initial save, but Jesper Fast was following up the play and banged home the rebound.

Rangers 3, Pens 2

Zuccarello took a pass for the partial break after a penalty kill, and put an innocent backhand on Jarry, who let a bad rebound out. Zucc batted home his own rebound for the goal.

Pens 3, Rangers 3

Hornqvist simply got in behind Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh after a very badly timed change by Jesper Fast. Malkin simply fed him, and Hornqvist broke in and did the rest.

Rangers 4, Pens 3

The Rangers caught a break on this one. Pavel Buchnevich’s pass to David Desharnais went off Kris Letang’s skate and over the shoulder of Jarry.

No game charts are available for this one. The NHL whiffed on their real time stats and their coverage last night. Woof.

Shift Chart

Here is the shift chart. One thing I find to be very interesting is that Mike Sullivan didn’t try to get Crosby away from McDonagh at all. He had last change, yet Crosby and McDonagh were on the ice together a lot. Aside from that, there wasn’t much to see in terms of match ups. Standard from both coaches.

The Rangers came away with two points and showed that they can skate with the Penguins, which is definitely a good sign. They did so without Mika Zibanejad as well, also a good sign. That said, the Penguins owned the second and third periods and hit a ton of posts. Ideally the overall flow is more balanced, but it’s hard to complain about two points against the Pens.

Categories : Game Wrap-ups


  1. Eduardo!Eduardo!Eduardo! says:

    I see that AV is still showing his hatred for kids by playing the old timers like Pavel (Old Man) Buchnevich on the top line and Boo ( The Veteran) Nieves on the 4th line. Then he plays Brady ( Senior Citizen) Skjei on D. He really needs to start playing some kids for a change

    • Richter1994 says:

      Just like the real E3!!

    • Bloomer says:

      Not to mention that Jimmy Vesey fellow who never gets into the lineups.

      Delangelo is not exactly lighting it up down in the Iron League. Hes got a couple of helpers and is a minus 9. We traded who for him. Right we needed to improve our Blueline and add some puck movers in the lineup. Good win last night bring on the Devil’s. Rangers ain’t scared.

    • gene4240 says:

      AV finally realized that playing Nick Holden with less than two-minutes left in a one-goal game, is not a good idea, only took AV one season Plus…However, I give AV two thumbs up for that move.

      Rangers need help on blueline.

    • RichS says:

      Does this game show you that a team with a bunch of really good players can beat a team with 3 or maybe 4 future HOF ers?????
      I still maintain that when the rest of our young players [ miller, hayes, vesey, chytil, andersson, day ] reach their potential we will be a serious candidate for a cup even without a superstar.
      When will we get a tough defenseman to ”’clear ”’ the front of the net from opposing players?
      Although some added toughness and a new coach wouldn’t hurt either!
      Who was that 12 year old kid on the rangers bench dressed in a goalie uniform?
      All in all exciting game, great win!!!

  2. Richter1994 says:

    It wasn’t perfect by any means, but that was a real quality win against a real quality opponent last night.

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      I thought they showed resilience last night. It’s always a weird game against Pittsburgh it seems. Thought the Ranger D was pitiful again last night, as usual they have their goalie to thank for the two points. The only D pairing that didn’t look awful was Skjei-Shatty, and even they had their ugly moments last night. The D’s shot suppression was just flat-out bad. Nice to see NYR get some bounces against this damnable Penguins team.

      • Richter1994 says:

        It’s very funny that you said “weird” with the Pens. The games against them are, aren’t they? Especially in Pitts. I thought it was just me that thought or imagined that.

        But you’re correct also in that they didn’t buckle after dominating the first and then getting blitzed in the second.

        Their defending is awful. Winning, despite the # of shot attempts against vs. the Pens no less, is very fortunate and lucky, really.

        I really can’t imagine calling up bodies vs. what we have on the back line now could be any worse. I really can’t. Holden is a complete train wreck. How many icings for him alone last night? 3? 4? Because he panics under pressure.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          This sounds like the same discussion we had last year involving Girardi vs Clendening. And I don’t have to remind you how that all has worked out for both players and the teams that signed them. I think your categorizations of the guys you don’t like are a tad harsh. 🙂

          I would be willing to bet big money, that if you had an opportunity to study the tapes with Lindy Ruff, and you got to break down each shift and really analyze it, you would see more good plays from Holden then you give him credit for. I’m not saying he’s that good or that we don’t need an upgrade there. Ideally, we do. But in a salary cap league that promotes parity (aka mediocrity), most teams have players they probably wish they didn’t have.

          As for the kids, I just watched a high school basketball doubleheader the other day. The starting guard on the varsity team has his issues for sure. But they aren’t going to bring up the JV guard that is still learning and hasn’t done any better vs lesser competition. Not until the JV guard proves he’s can succeed on the lesser level. You may think it couldn’t get any worse if you just said, “what the heck, give it a try”, and then bring him up and hope the Hail Mary comes through and magically that player succeeds on the higher level.

          To me, the approach you advocate is almost a certain guarantee that it would in fact get much worse. If these guys can’t get it done vs AHL competition, which is light years removed from the NHL in terms of quality, they have virtually no chance to succeed in the NHL—especially with limited practice time.

          How about some props for your whipping boy Carey, who played well along with the rest of our 4th line. Boo was called up, was he not? He was real good last night. Proving that the Rangers will call up guys—when they are ready. Defense is another matter—it’s been said over and over, the learning curve is huge for defensemen. Bringing them up too soon would be bad for the player and bad for the team if they aren’t ready.

          In addition, would you want to give them their baptism against the Pens last night, or the Caps Friday? That’s a sure fire disaster waiting to happen. I’d wait until they show they are ready, and then pick the right point in the schedule to do it. But ONLY once they are ready.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Bro, I admire your stick-to-it-ness.

            A couple of games ago, a road game (I think it was Carolina), Michelleti starts crowing about the “2 great defensive plays” that Holden made in front of the net.

            Now, to the ordinary hockey fan that sounds good. But see, I WATCH the plays develop. It was Holden that put the Rangers at risk to begin with what “resulted” in him having to make those desperate defensive plays in front of the net. It’s cause and effect.

            All too many times there is a NEED to make a desperate defensive play because the player CAUSED it to happen in the first place. That’s reactive. They need to be proactive and AVOID those resulting issues in the first place, that’s good defending.

            I would be more than happy to sit with a coach and go through video with them based on what I see, especially at the home games I attend where I see the whole ice. Because, you don’t get to see (on TV) all the little subtle plays that lead to scoring chances and odd man rushes for the other team.

            Why do you assume that because the “kids” aren’t here is because they’re not good enough? You mean management is always correct in their evaluation of players? Every time? Bias and/or stubbornness is never a possibility?

            We all feel good about the win last night, however, it’s the same game every night, just about. High shot attempts by the opponents, a good number of them quality scoring chances. For the fact that Pav made some timely saves (especially at the end there) and the 5 posts the Pens hit, it masked a pretty hideous defensive game. “The Song Remains the Same.”

            Over the long-term this is a recipe for failure. Get away with it last night but maybe not Friday night or Saturday night. Depends on how our goalie plays on any given night.

            Hands raised high if you thought the Carolina home game was going to be a clusterf–k after Hank gave up that goal to Williams 30 seconds in (mine is raised). But he rebounded nicely and we won another game where the “charts” said that we were outplayed.

            How long is it before you try to “change” the scenario or the dynamics? Just leave it alone? I don’t agree with that. They’re not good enough as is.

            If the offense were Pens’ like then ok, you can over compensate. But they’re not close to that.

            Hank playing like a maniac is a solution for everything and it also takes Ranger management and coaches off the hook, because then they don’t have to do anything, just like they want it.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              I think a lot of your points are very valid. But where we disagree—

              1) Is management always right? Of course not. But people do deserve the benefit of the doubt when they have a track record of success. And in the area of player evaluation involving young talent, we have never seen a situation that I can recall under this regime where they have misread a young player’s upside to later see that player succeed elsewhere. I can’t even think of one time. If they were letting go of young players that went on to shine elsewhere, then sure, your concerns would be more than valid.

              So that says to me that Gorton/Drury can indeed be trusted to make the right call as to when and if the young players are ready. And I have no doubt that they absolutely know if these guys are NHL-ready. You don’t have to see them in the NHL to know if you are a pro in this business. Further, i would bet just about anything that the scouts who follow the Rangers are probably not going back to their superiors saying “man, I can’t believe those crazy guys on the Rangers, playing a loser like Nick Holden over an average AHL player like Neil Pionk or a so-called young “stud” like ADA who can barely convince his coach to even allow him to dress for games”. Stop and think about that for a second. Do you really think the rest of the league sees what you are seeing? I highly doubt it (again, I refer you to last year’s Clendo vs Girardi debate for your likely answer)

              2) I’ll reverse this on you. Why do you assume that players who have been at best adequate and at worst extremely disappointing so far on the AHL level could possibly help the big club, especially in the Rangers case where they are a contending team? I mean, can you name me examples of where that has happened? It probably has in a few unusual cases, but don’t you see how “out there” that approach would be?

              Would the Giants draft a player who was medicocre in college and expect him to start?

              Would the Yankees recall a .210 hitting third baseman from AAA and expect him to displace Chase Headley, even though Headley is mediocre? Of course not!

              The Rangers are flawed, but they are winning. They have the best record in hockey since Halloween. Chemistry matters in this sport. It is hardly unreasonable to challenge these young players in the AHL to actually, I don’t know, maybe ACCOMPLISH something in the minors against much weaker competition before we entrust them with critical minutes in games that could decide the Rangers playoff fate. I don’t know of any organization in any sport that would do what you are suggesting.

              I agree we could use a few upgrades. There is plenty of time to either let our youngsters prove what they can do in Hartford (which they have by and large NOT done to this point), and/or look to upgrade via trade. Be patient my friend. We don’t need to throw a monkey wrench into a winning formula right now. We just don’t.

              • Richter1994 says:

                Who has a history of success on the Rangers?

                One guy, the man in nets. 3 coaches and 2 GMs have benefited greatly from having Lundqvist as their goalie.

                AV also had Luongo before him and a much better team in Vancouver than here in NY.

                “Success” a very tricky word. Do I consider the Rangers a “success” for the past 12 years? Yeah, probably. Am I giving that credit to AV or Torts or Sather or Gorton? Not a chance. Because the simple aswer is that without Henrik then the Rangers are (probably) not considered a “success.”

                Don’t forget, the European scout had to BEG management to draft Henrik. It almost didn’t happen, so giving the Rangers “credit” for a 7th round after thought is not appropriate.

                The Rangers have made some good moves over the years and a lot of bad ones too. They had a nice run from 2012 to 2015. 2 different coaches and 2 different GMs during that run. They do not get credit, Henrik does.

                So am I skeptical of them assessing players? I sure am. And, again, trying youth in Oct/Nov is the time to find out, not Jan/Feb. This should have been done already.

                And Holden, is a player that Gorton has tried every which way to trade and no takers. So I guess the rest of the league does see what I see. Holden is so valuable to the Rangers that they’re trying for months to trade him. Why not sign him to an extension? He’s playing top pair, after all, lol.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                We are both tenacious and stubborn aren’t we? 🙂

                I agree that the overriding reason the Rangers have been successful as team is due to them lucking into Hank. No argument there. But I don’t equate the ability to scout amateur talent with the ability to assess the players in your system and determine if they are NHL-ready or not. Those are two different things. Everyone passed on Hank, not just the Rangers, so that to me is irrelevant.

                The Rangers drafting was abysmal in the late 90s and early 2000s—that cost us a legit chance at the Cup. But Gorton and Drury had nothing to do with any of that. We completely blew it in 2010. Gorton was there but wasn’t in charge, Now way to know what he recommended. But sure, I will agree, if we are talking about drafting high end players, color me skeptical when it comes to the Rangers.

                But that’s not what we are debating. I’m specifically referring to players that are IN the organization. That’s very different. Drafting is more of a crap shoot. Once a player is playing professionally in your organization, the evaluation process becomes much easier. That’s what we are discussing. And on that element specifically, Gorton seems to be making the right calls. Not one young player that I can think of that the Rangers moved on from has gone on to shine elsewhere. So yes, on that, they have earned the benefit of the doubt IMO.

                Again, I am not aware of any professional organization in sports or anywhere else that would promote someone who has yet to shine in the job they currently hold. As a hiring exec myself, the very idea of promoting someone who has accomplished very little on a lower level is frankly repulsive to me. I would never do it and I doubt many if any pro sports organization would do it either.

                The Rangers players in the AHL have not distinguished themselves. Once they do, I have no doubt we will see them short order.

                We will have to agree to disagree my friend. 🙂

              • Richter1994 says:

                I think I remember that you are in politics or something like that? I’m a partner in an accounting firm, so I am running a small business.

                In both or assumed worlds, we both cannot afford to be wrong too many times. Other people depend on our judgement. Doing the same wrong things over and over is not acceptable, for a lot of reasons.

                Holden, is responsible for many game losing goals. There is no justification for parading him out there game after game. The option of trying someone else is a well worth “risk.” Because the possibility of getting better results is high.

                If the economy is at 2008 levels and then it’s 5% better after that, that doesn’t make it a great situation, no matter how it’s spun in the media.

                AV does a lot of spinning.

              • gene4240 says:

                If I could add if that is cool. I agree not messing or tinkering with a teams chemistry, especially when things are going well. I do feel it would not be a lost if a young d-men were to be called up and given a few games over Nick Holden.

                Nick Holden when he is entering into the defensive zone gets caught too often out of position and many SOG are taken from the slot, where you want the offensive player to take from outside angles. I know the both of you know this but what makes Hank one of the best, is his mental part. A friend of mine (Robert) who I work out with used to be the strength conditioning coach for COL, FLA, and Ottawa. He is pretty close friends with Craig Anderson of the Sens. Interesting point he made is how Goaltenders prepare mentality and the the physical part of their conditioning is execute mostly on the GT routine, because there elite athletics. He said Hank is so good because no matter how much he does not trust his blueline, he still stays sharp. I think was underappreciated last year when people were calling to trade Hank. All Hank needed was to step away for a short period mentality. My thoughts is the blue line last year was not very good and got to Hank. Sure enough, Dan G is bought out and Shatty is brought in. So in-conclusion, I am sure in the short future, the Rangers will do something to improve the blue line but it might cost a top player to do so or making a slick move after the season to do so.

              • Richter1994 says:

                I hope that you are right Geno because this current group of D men do not cut it at all.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Well, I run a major media group, and have covered politics for years. So you are close. 🙂

                I 100% agree with paragraph two. But let’s say in your accounting firm, you had someone that you were not happy with. Would you promote the guy from the mailroom to take his place? Would you take a kid right out of school who did not come highly recommended? I doubt it. Just as I wouldn’t hire a college kid who had an unimpressive demo tape to be an anchor at one of my stations.

                So if we are talking about upgrading the position that Mr. Holden, your “CPA” who isn’t all that good, currently holds yes, I 100% agree. If we are talking about replacing him with somone who is having trouble with basic math skills, then sorry, that would be a bad hire involving bad judgment. You wouldn’t do it, anymore than I would hire a bad anchor to replace a medicore one.

                But if I could say to you “Richter, give me a month. I can work with this rookie CPA and get him to shine in his lower level position. then he will be ready to replace Mr. Holden”, doesn’t that make more sense? And in the meantime, you keep looking and maybe you find an even better option at a rival company. Wouldn’t that be the far better and safer approach? 🙂

                CPA, news anchor, NHL defenseman. All have enormous responsibilities associated with them. None of us that are responsible for hiring will put someone in those roles that has so far proven they likely won’t succeed. To do that would hurt your business even worse, have people questioning your judgement, and send the wrong messages to those waiting for an opportunity. My message is always this—“do the job you are currently in at the highest level. Knock it out of the park. If you do that, then I will consider rewarding you. If you can’t or won’t, then you are proving that you are not worthy of further consideration in this organization.”

                My message to the kids on the Rangers—-EARN your opportunity. Nothing will or should be handed to you. So far, they have earned nothing. Is it too much to ask that Pionk and Lettieri play consistently well on the AHL level, and that ADA can at least find his way into the lineup more regaularly before we call them up and disrupt what is working at the moment? Because make no mistake, putting a rookie in that the organization doesnt fully believe is ready is going to be extremely disruptive in a negative way.

              • Richter1994 says:

                Bro, some of your examples are off base. A person in the mail room is not an accountant, so that doesn’t apply.

                NHL, AHL, ECHL, etc., they’re all hockey players, just at different levels. So those players are “qualified” to potentially replace Ranger players.

                My point is, it’s not working for the Rangers right now so it has to be fixed. Hartford offers “possible” solutions but they have to be tried in order to find out.

                I just realized that you’re AV’s marketing firm that spins all his mishigas. lol

            • RichS says:

              Once again your comments are spot on, backed by logical reasoning and cogent analysis.
              You should write some of the articles here !!!!
              Your paragraph ending in ”’ “The Song Remains the Same.”’ says exactly how I feel……
              Do you agree with my optimism that I believe that when the rest of our young players [ miller, hayes, vesey, chytil, andersson, day ] reach their potential we will be a serious candidate for a cup even without a superstar???

              • Richter1994 says:

                Hey pal.

                Yes, I think that if the Rangers have 4 true lines and 3 true D pairs, then as a collective group that this team could make some noise.

                The start is to get the tired old retreads out of the line up and replace them with faster and younger players. I’ve always been on board with that.

      • tanto says:

        I’ll thank the post …. and the post and the post …. oh, and the post.

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          Posts aren’t lucky, they are shots that have missed the net. I’ve never been one to say that a goalie gets bailed out by the posts, because of that aspect. You could argue that a goalie’s positioning on a shot attempt has a lot to do with a shot hitting the post and missing the net.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Very astute point MC. In fact, on one of Malkin’s shots that hit the post, the one when he visibly reacted after he missed, I commented to my son that I thought Pavelec had the angle covered pretty well. Malkin’s “mistake”, if you will, was that if he had held off for another second and veered a bit more to his left, then he likely has Pavelec out of position and buries it. But at that angle, I thought it was less about luck and more about proper positioning.

        • Stevem says:

          I nominate the posts for the Vezina trophy

          • pavel_burrito says:

            Like the other guys said. Sometimes posts are luck, but other times they are the result of the goalie taking away other options.
            If the shooter has nothing much to shoot for, he’ll pick a more difficult spot that’s left open, and then there is a good chance it’ll hit the post, or miss the net entirely.

  3. SalMerc says:

    2 points in Pittsburgh. Good effort, nice win.

  4. Pete says:

    When you win ugly it still means that you won!

  5. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Congratulations to Boo Nieves on his first NHL goal. He, like myself, is a product of Kent Hockey….. I’m glad a professional career worked out for at least one of us 🙂

  6. Dan says:

    Just from the eye test:

    – The Rangers offense had some grade A opportunities. Tarry made some really nice stops on them. I really liked how the offense looked for a lot of the night.

    – The defense was rough to watch. I understand Pittsburgh has some of the best players in the world on their team but it just felt like the Rangers didn’t do a good job containing their chances.

    – Between the posts for Pittsburgh and a couple of insane saves by Tarry, this game could of been 7-6 either way.

    – No game is perfect (this one was a lot of fun to watch though), there are 82 of them in a season but this was a HUGE 2 points no matter which way you slice it. Especially without Hank or Mika. Strong win to build on.

    – Pavelec … man, it’s like Rivera with the Yankees. You don’t know how good you have it till he’s gone. Every time Pittsburgh had their chances, I did not feel comfortable with Pavelec making the stop. Don’t get me wrong, he played well. But there is a different feeling I have when Hank is in net, compared to anyone else (especially Pavelec). I think Ondrej getting more work will be key for his confidence but like Rivera (who had his haters during his years at times), Lundqvist won’t get his full due as a player until he hangs up the skates. He’s been so dependable and consistent for so long. As long as Hank is in net, we will have the opportunity to win every single game we play.

    • NYRfaninDC says:

      Couldn’t agree more about Pavelec. His movement seems excessive and inefficient. He’s good enough squaring up to the initial shot, but he tends to leave juicy rebounds and gets a bit scrambling when he has to move laterally.

      Hopefully “The Goalie Whispere” Coach Allaire can work with him a bit to settle everything down.

      We’ve been spoiled the last few years with out backups. If we can get over 0.500 wins from a backup, I’ll take it. And I think Pavelec can deliver that.

      It’s been covered before that teams will often adjust their defensive schemes depending on which goalie is in net. That’s another reason that Lundqvist needs to play less, so the team can get used to playing in front of the backup.

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Man, that’s a tough assessment of Pavelec’s play last night. He won the game for the Rangers and faced a ton of shots. Considering the rust factor, how can you have a problem with our backup beating the 2-time defending Stanley Cup champs?

      • Richter1994 says:

        However, Dan is correct. Pav was very shaky, BUT, give him credit for battling through it and win a big game for the team.

        • Hockey Sittoo says:

          Shaky early but he stood tall in the waning minutes and all through 2nd period. Stellar effort imo. He is not Hank, nor even Antti or Cam. But he can be a decent backup and Hank needs some games off.

          • Richter1994 says:

            I have no problem with Pav at all. The team dug themselves a hole early on and went to their safety net (Henrik) to bail the team out yet again. They are now 15-10-2.

      • Dan says:

        I hear ya, I’m not trying to diminish the win at all, very solid considering Hank got the flu and he was told he was gonna start 24 hours before game time. I actually did like the signing back in the summer, and I agree, he needs games to shake off the rust.

        The point was more that, IMO, Hank has been so dependable in net for so long that when someone else is in there, there’s not that same feeling of “we’re gonna win this one tonight”. Until he proves me otherwise, we always have a shot at winning every game we play.

        However, there were times in the second and third where the game could of been blown open. It looked like Pavelec was leaving a lot of the net open. At some point Hank will be gone, and he won’t get his full due from his detractors as to how good he truly is until someone is in net getting shelled.

  7. Leatherneck says:

    Yeah, seems to me too that the games in Pitt are almost scripted, and us also battling the zebras

    Great win last night

  8. Mintgecko says:

    Please get Vesey away from Hayes and Nash. People that wanted to see that or him being in the top 6 must really hate this team deep inside of them. I’m patiently waiting for Mika to get back, try DD as the 3c one more time so JT can move up and play wing. There’s proof of JT liking winger better and playing next to Hayes.