The New York Rangers outstanding season away from Madison Square Garden continued on Saturday night as the Blueshirts defeated the Minnesota Wild, 3-2 on Saturday.
The Rangers spent several shifts pinned in their own end, but Alain Vigneault wisely used his timeout and the Bllueshirts converted on a several opportunities. Antti Raanta started between the pipes once again, stopping 25 of 27 shots as he earned his 15th victory of the season.
Blueshirt Bullet Points:
1) The Minnesota native, Brady Skjei connected on a one-timer to even the score in the opening period. He was once again paired with Adam Clendening, who rejoined the lineup after being scratched for several consecutive games.
2) Pavel Buchnevich also rejoined the lineup, and filled in nicely next to Oscar Lindberg and Jimmy Vesey on New York’s fourth line. Lindberg gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead midway through the second period when J.T. Miller delivered a pretty pass from behind the goal line. Miller initially started the rush, playing the puck off the boards to Rick Nash. Then, Miller won a battle in the corner and somehow found Lindberg waiting in front.
3) Jimmy Vesey scored the game-winner and had his best offensive game in weeks. The rookie snapped a 14-game streak without a goal. Shortly before he scored, Vesey snapped off a wrist shot that beat stung Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Then, Pavel Buchnevich fired a sharp-angled shot and Vesey collected the rebound. Between periods Vesey said on MSG Network he was unaware Dubnyk was shaken up, but it appeared Buchnevich knew exactly what was going on.
4) “There team is big and physical on both ends,” J.T. Miller said on MSG Network after the game. “We knew if we played soft tonight, it would be a tough game for us.”
5) After falling in a shootout on Friday, Raanta had another terrific performance. Throughout the first 40 minutes, Minnesota generated odd man rush after odd man rush. Raanta made save after save until New York found their legs and were able to convert offensively. The Rangers have posted a 10-3-0 record in the second game of a back-to-back set thus far this season. In their last 95 back-to-back sets (since the start of the 2010-11 season), the Rangers have posted a 63-26-6 record in the second game of the set
6) The Rangers lead the NHL in road wins this season (26) and since the start of the 2013-14 season (98). The Blueshirts’ 26 road wins this season are tied for the 11th-most any NHL team has registered in one season in franchise history. The Rangers have six regular season road games remaining in the 2016-17 season.
7) Vigneault jumbled the lines offensively tonight, flip flopping Derek Stepan and Mika Zibanejad for large portions of the game. In these last 10 games, AV should be experimenting with forward combinations until he finds the right set of four lines. The Rangers had some magic up front in the beginning of the season, and need to find their groove offensively if they want to take advantage of their cross-over Wild Card seeding.
8) The Rangers did not put together a full 60-minute effort tonight as they struggled in the first period, but they put together a strong 40 minutes as they defeated one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
9) If you want a reason why AV trusts Jesper Fast in the defensive zone as much as he does, see his blocked shot with under 10 seconds remaining. No. 19 laid out and made sure the shot could not get through him.
10) Rick Nash has made a habit in recent games of driving to the net, and playing a more physical game. He has not been rewarded with a goal in recent games, but he is playing the way he needs to, and will light the lamp if this continues.