Rangers power play finally rolls into win over Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Apparently the key to the Rangers scoring on the power play is attacking and shooting when they’re not on the power play.

Confused even more than the blueshirts have seemed with the man’s advantage for much of the last few weeks? Let’s talk.

Vincent Trocheck received a minor roughing penalty at 12:36 of a scoreless first period Sunday against the Panthers. One minute and four seconds later, Sam Bennett’s goalie interference offense nullified Florida’s power play and created a four-on-four manpower situation for the next 56 seconds. .

Time was running out in the four-on-four when Adam Fox’s wire sent Artemi Panarin through the neutral zone before the No 10’s throw jumped Mika Zibanejad alone on Sergei Bobrovsky while operating in the wide open. four against four.

Zibanejad, who scored the Blueshirts’ lone goal in Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss at Tampa, separated two defenders on the line before losing control on a deke before the puck nevertheless slipped five holes on the along the ice on a seemingly surprised goalie. for a 1-0 lead.

Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his second goal of the game against the Florida Panthers with teammate Kaapo Kakko on Sunday.

Although Trocheck hadn’t quite reached the rink when the puck entered the net, the scoreboard clock showed 5:24 left in the period. Which technically meant the Rangers had scored on a power play that had been on 0-for-9 and 1-for-18 streaks after failing on an earlier men’s advantage.

Indeed, that success energized the first unit to such a degree that the club recorded a second power-play goal, and a legit one on which Trocheck drove to the right door to convert a backdoor flow from Chris Kreider.

And those goals helped the Blueshirts to a 5-3 victory over the Puddy Tats in a game that was probably a little tougher than necessary, with the visitors allowing Florida to halve three two-goal leads in 3: 27, 3:18. and 1:15 respectively in the second and third periods.

Rangers, however, aren’t going to quibble over style points when the only ones that matter are the two they earned for the win.

Zibanejad’s power-play goal was the only goal in the period in which Rangers had the upper hand ahead of Jaroslav Halak, whose toughest save in his first start in 15 days came on Bennett shorthanded four minutes into the contest.

The Blueshirts never really asserted themselves in a second period in which they twice took a 2-0 and 3-1 lead, but went into intermission by just 3-2 after being edged 13- 7 in the middle of 20 minutes while shorthanded three times in 8:02.

Both Zibanejad and Kreider converted Kaapo Kakko’s shots for the goals – the first at 10:30 a.m., the next at 3:44 p.m. – but the Blueshirts gave up a pair themselves, the second coming on Bennett’s power play after a long rebound with 58 seconds remaining. in the period.

Rangers center Barclay Goodrow (21) got involved with Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) during the first period on Sunday.

It was the first game of the 2023 calendar year following a 2022 year in which the club went 51-28-8 during the regular season. The Rangers were just off the playoff tiebreaker line of regulation wins, starting this one with a 19-12-6 record that sounds a lot better than winning 19 of 37 games.

The record, however, hadn’t fooled head coach Gerard Gallant.

“It’s a work in progress, but I love our pieces. We’re going to be a good hockey team, but we have to be more consistent, as I’ve said many times,” Gallant said. “It’s not much different from a lot of teams in our position. You look at the standings and it’s pretty tight. We can be better, we know it and we think we will be better.

Gallant rolled out a unique line combination featuring Filip Chytil between reinstated Alexis Lafrenière and Jimmy Vesey for this one. The tinkering never seems to stop. Again, the Rangers are not alone.

“I was talking to my buddy Jon Cooper the other night,” Gallant said, referring to the Tampa Bay head coach. “They’re a really good team, they’ve been to the finals three years in a row and he said, ‘I keep juggling my line-up’, and I said, ‘Well, now that you mention that, you don’t read the New York newspapers?

“But it’s true, you always try to find the right mix some nights and that’s how it goes. It’s never going to be perfect, but you work hard, you compete hard and you find ways to win the matches you can.”

It wasn’t perfect. But it was one that not only should Rangers have won and could have won, but they did.


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