The Rangers regular season came to a close with a 3-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins (sort of) at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Many regulars for both sides did not play, and the few that did just wanted to enter the postseason on healthy note.
Jimmy Vesey notched the game-winner and ended an eight-game goal drought. The rookie from Harvard finished the season with 16 goals and is expected to start the postseason in a top-nine role.
Blueshirt Bullet Points
1) Before the game, the Rangers handed out a couple of awards. Ryan McDonagh won the team MVP award and Jesper Fast was selected as the Players’ Player honor for the second consecutive season.
2) “He’s a real dedicated young man that competes every shift that he’s on the ice,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of Fast. “He has a great team-first attitude. That’s what you want in a teammate, and that’s what you want as a coach in a player.”
3) Also, Mats Zuccarello won the Steven McDonald extra effort award. The Rangers had a very touching ceremony with several members of the McDonald family attending.
4) “To have the fans vote for me it’s really big,” Zuccarello explained. “I’m real excited and and I’d like to thank everyone that voted for me. … I’m honored and humbled that they picked me. It’s something I am going to cherish for a long time.”
5) Magnus Hellberg earned his first career victory but looked shaky on a few breakaways. Phil Kessel had an opportunity that somehow Hellberg was able to kick away at the last second. For the Rangers sake, good think Antti Raanta is expected to be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
6) “I am a little overwhelmed right now,” Hellberg said. This is something I’ve been fighting for for five years, so to be able to get this opportunity in the last game of the season is very big for me.”
7) Overall, there is not much to take away from this game with so many minor-leaguers and disinterested veterans playing. The one good thing is, the regular season is over and the playoffs are only a few days away.
8) Dan Girardi skated with Ryan McDonagh on the top pairing, an indication that two will be slotted next to each other in the first game against Montreal.
9) McDonagh opened up the scoring after dancing around multiple Penguins and snapping off a wrist shot to tally his sixth of the season.
10) “The time off helps there,” McDonagh said. “I felt really strong in my skates and I felt fast and powerful, so that’s a good sign here to get ready.”