The NY Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes put up a game of the year candidate. The first period was a little bit of a feeling out process for the Rangers giving up a fluky goal to Brent Burns, but then by games end showed they are able to hang with just about any top team in this league. The key to victory was of course K’Andre Miller’s game winner, but it’s not everyday the Rangers outshoot the Carolina Hurricanes.
That is usually Carolina’s bread and butter as an organization. At 5 on 5, the Rangers didn’t rely on Igor Shesterkin as they usually do, which is good, but unfortunately they gave up a few bad luck goals. It happens. Hockey happens. At the end of the day, the Rangers beat a strong Carolina team in regulation, and did so with a 5 goal output.
More on Shesterkin, as stated before, he stood no chance on two of the three goals. His game stat line doesn’t look good, as 20 saves on 23 shots is not something he wants to repeat. Still, a win’s a win. Where Shesterkin most came up big was the late stages of the third when Carolina was pushing to try and tie the game. So while the counting stats may not have been his best, when called upon, he made the saves he had to to ensure victory for the Rangers.
As for the forwards, it sure looks like 2023 is going to be the year of Kaapo Kakko. He continues to be a factor on the top line, creating space and racking up points with the assist on Miller’s winner. Kakko has found his role and he is allowing guys like Zibanejad and Kreider to find open ice.
Like Kakko, K’Andre Miller is also having a phenomenal year. The game winner aside, Miller has elevated his game to become the best LD on the roster, better than Ryan Lindgren. He does make a few silly plays here and there, specifically with chasing guys to the boards, but his overall body of work is stellar.
The only bone to pick for the evening was following Filip Chytil’s shot block attempt in the 2nd which allowed Carolina to take the lead 3-2. Gallant dropped Chytil down to the 4th line and promoted Barclay Goodrow to play with Alexis Lafrenière and Julien Gauthier following this.
Chytil might not have had his best game, but a demotion for an attempted shot block seems like an extreme overreaction. Hopefully this was just a one-off, or there was more to it than the deflection, and Gallant has him right back on his regular line for Thursday.
Despite this, Chytil got redemption with the empty net goal to seal the game. With 9 goals and 10 assists on the season, he is still on pace for about a 45-50 point season as a 3rd line center. Just incredible growth from this player who you knew the talent was there, but is great to see tangible results.
Canes 1, Rangers 0
The Rangers turned the puck over too many times early on, and a defensive zone turnover led to chaos and a goal. The breakdown by the Rangers here was the turnover, not the coverage low. Brent Burns got the credit, but it did look like Igor Shesterkin inadvertently helped that one go in.
Rangers 1, Canes 1
Jacob Trouba’s point shot hit two Hurricanes on the way in. Sometimes, you create your own luck.
Canes 2, Rangers 1
Another defensive zone turnover. More puck watching. K’Andre Miller pressed along the boards for no reason. Trouba was left alone low to defend that 2-on-1. Just bad all around. The Rangers were sloppy in the first period.
Rangers 2, Canes 2
Vincent Trocheck got in behind Carolina’s defense after a bit of a turnover at the blue line by the Canes. Mika Zibanejad’s pass to Trocheck looked like it was never touched and went through Pyotr Kochetkov.
Canes 3, Rangers 2
Another failed clear. Another sloppy goal. This was a bit more bad luck though, as Filip Chytil’s attempt to break up the pass wound up behind Shesterkin.
Rangers 3, Canes 3
Artemi Panarin skated around most of the Canes and somehow his shot got through Kotchetkov. Multiple screens, no real defensive breakdown by Carolina. This game had some of the sloppiest play and weirdest goals I’ve ever seen.
Rangers 4, Canes 3
Kakko was very strong on the puck after the initial K’Andre Miller keep, stretching the Carolina defense and opening up the slot for Miller to park and deflect Zibanejad’s shot.
Rangers 5, Canes 3
Filip Chytil empty netter on the powerplay. Redemption.