“Whew!” Glad that’s over!
The Rangers played arguably their worst game of the season; playing down to the level of the 10-win Coyotes.
But they managed to secure two points — winning 2-1 in a shootout — and ultimately that’s what matters.
The Blueshirts had no business winning this game and were dominated by the Coyotes from opening faceoff to final horn.
And again the 7th Avenue Skaters put forth a less than stellar effort.
When former-Ranger Anthony Duclair scored on Arizona’s first period power-play things looked bleak for the visitors. But a tremendous individual effort by Jimmy Vesey in the second period tied the game.
Vesey caught Oliver Ekman-Larsson along the boards and stripped Arizona’s stud defender of the puck. Vesey made a power move to skate towards the Coyotes’ net and roofed the puck over former-Ranger Antti Raanta’s shoulder for the game-tying goal.
From there the Coyotes continued to play one of their best games of the season while the Blueshirts plodded along.
All the issues surrounding the Rangers since the start of the season were on display tonight and it nearly handed them a humiliating defeat.
The Blueshirts couldn’t clear the puck from their zone. They couldn’t make passes. Couldn’t get through the neutral zone. And couldn’t generate any pressure on the opposing goalie.
But it’s not always the best team that wins. Sometimes it’s the luckiest team.
And the overtime period exemplified that perfectly.
The Coyotes dominated possession and looked poised to win several times, but even a slashing penalty by Brady Skjei wasn’t enough for Arizona to capitalize.
From there the game went into the shootout. And although the Rangers were missing their leading shootout scorer Mats Zuccarello — out with the flu — Mika Zibanejad stepped up and scored the only goal of the skills contest; giving the Blueshirts their 2-1 margin of victory.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
HIS MAJESTY: Henrik Lundqvist made 38-saves through 65 minutes and three more in the shootout; passing Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito for sole possession of eighth-place on the all-time wins list.
ROAD TRIPPING: The Rangers lead the NHL and the Eastern Conference in road wins since the start of last season with 34.
GOING BEYOND: Seven of the Blueshirts’ last 12 games have needed overtime or a shootout to determine a winner. They are 8-5 in the 13 games that have gone beyond regulation this season.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT: In eight games against Pacific Division teams this season the Blueshirts are 7-1-0. And even more impressive, they have won nine-straight against Arizona dating back to March 24, 2014.
The Rangers face James Neal and the Golden Knights Sunday (Jan. 7) at T-Mobile Arena. Game time: 9:30 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Network.
After the game was over Head Coach Alain Vigneault had this to say regarding his team’s less than optimal performance against the worst team in the NHL:
“They’re not all Picasso’s. We’ll take the points and head to Vegas.”