Well that was a topsy-turvy game.
The Rangers were outshot 40-32 and were outhit 21-12.
Yet they won the game 4-1.
How can that make sense? Well here’s the beautiful part; it doesn’t have to make sense. At the end of the day, as long as the Blueshirts get two points that’s all that matters.
Now for the three things the 7th Avenue Skaters did right.
They received superior goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist. They killed off both penalties they committed. And they outscored their opponent.
You see, when you get right down to it, the game of hockey is rather simple — at least in theory.
The team that scores the most goals within the allotted time frame wins. Although, that’s a lot easier said than done.
After surrendering 16 shots to the Ducks in the opening period, the Blueshirts hit ‘em where it hurts. Paul Carey netted the first of his two-goals with 46 seconds remaining in the first period, courtesy of a marvelous cross-ice pass from David Desharnais.
A 1-0 lead after one quickly became a two-goal lead 38 seconds into the middle period.
Another great pass — this time from Mats Zuccarello — led to Kevin Hayes sniping the puck past John Gibson for the Rangers’ second goal.
With seven minutes left in the period Carey again found himself the beneficiary of open ice and a terrific pass; again from Desharnais. And just like that it was 3-0 Blueshirts.
An Ondrej Kase goal with 5:17 to go in the third period spoiled Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout bid.
But Michael Grabner refused to let Kase’s crime go unpunished. Grabner and Jesper Fast led a two-on-one odd man rush up the ice and even though Gibson was still in his net, the Austrian Rocket took the feed from Fast and roofed it.
The goal was initially waved off, but video review overturned the call; giving Grabner his team-leading 17th goal of the year. And more importantly, it gave the Rangers’ their 4-1 margin of victory.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
PAPA JOHN’S: That’s 21 times in 28 games that the Blueshirts have invoked their discounted pizza rights.
HIS MAJESTY: Contrary to popular belief at the start of the season, the King isn’t dead yet. Sure Lundqvist is getting up there in age. And he has a few more gray hairs than he used to. However, he made 39-saves on 40 shots and was awarded the first star of the game. Looks like he silenced his doubters.
PENALTY-KILL: Another perfect night on the penalty-kill (two-for-two). And they’ve successfully killed off 61 of the last 69 power-play opportunities against them.
ALL THEY DO IS WIN: The Blueshirts have won 10 of 14, 16 of 22 and 18 of 26. Overall, they’ve secured at least a point in 21 of their last 28 games (18-7-3).
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Dating back to October 26th the Rangers have earned at least a point in 13 of their last 14 home contests. They lead the NHL in home points (31) and are tied for the league-lead in home victories (14).
BBQ DUCK: Since January 7, 2015 the 7th Avenue Skaters have won six of seven games against the Ducks. And if you look back to December 16, 2008 you’ll find that the Blueshirts are 10-4-1 in their last 15 games against Anaheim.
PACIFIC DIVISION PARADISE: This season the Rangers are 6-1-0 against the Pacific Division. Going back to the start of the 2016-17 season, the Blueshirts are 17-3-1 against their Pacific foes; and an equally impressive 12-2-0 against the Pacific teams at MSG.
The Rangers face Nico Hischier and the Devils Thursday (Dec. 21) at the Prudential Center. Game time is 7p.m. ET and the broadcast is on MSG Networks.
Lost in the outcome of the game, Mika Zibanejad returned to the lineup after missing nine contests with a concussion.
Afterwards a smiling Zibanejad happily told reporters:
“I think it was a decent game for the first game back. In the first period I tried to get into it. I think the skating was there. The positioning, the decision making and the plays came along and came throughout the game. It was good to be out there again.”
It’s a good thing he’s back, because the schedule only gets tougher from here.