Blueshirt Bullet Points: Rangers 5 – Panthers 2

In Blueshirt Bulletin Main Blog by Jim Cerny

The best way to cure what ails the Rangers when times are tough? Head out on the road. The Rangers are now a league-best 24-8-0 away from The Garden this season after Tuesday’s 5-2 win in Sunrise over the Panthers, which came less than 24 hours after Monday’s 1-0 overtime victory in Tampa against the Lightning, which came after the Blueshirts had dropped three of four.

Since Alain Vigneault became head coach prior to the 2013-14 season, the Rangers have won 25, a franchise-record 28, 19 and now 24 (and counting) road games. That total of 96 road victories the past four seasons is the most in the NHL.

One night after Antti Raanta’s splendid 38-save shutout, Henrik Lundqvist was pretty darn good himself, stopping 43 of 45 shots, including a scorpion-like left-skate save on Jussi Jokinen in the first and stunning one-two on Jonathan Marchessault’s second-period breakaway.

Another night, another win, and more milestones reached by Henrik, who earned his 404th career victory to pass Grant Fuhr for tenth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. It was also his 30th victory of the season, making him the first goalie in league history to record 30 or more wins in 11 of his first 12 seasons, and only the third goalie to win 30 or more games in at least 11 seasons at all.

“I’m proud, I’m very proud,” said Lundqvist postgame. “The big goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but at the same time you’ve got to enjoy the ride,. Every season, every trip, every game is something special and an opportunity to play this game, so I try and enjoy it.”

The Tanner Effect. He may be persona non grata to Rangers fans on social media, but Tanner Glass is extremely well-liked and respected by his teammates and coaches, so it was incredibly uplifting to see Glass score a first-period goal and set the screen and earn an assist on Nick Holden’s second-period tally.

“I was telling Millsie (J.T. Miller), if it’s not within five feet I’m not scoring. That’s how I get them,” Glass on his rebound goal from James Reimer’s doorstep 13 minutes into the opening period.

Tanner’s most recent goal in the NHL came almost exactly a year ago, on March 21, 2016. Against the Florida Panthers. Of course.

It was also the first multiple-point game for Glass since he joined the Rangers prior to the 2014-15 campaign. You had to know that.

Speaking of Holden, who dropped the hammer big time on Reimer, scoring on a bomb to make it 4-1 at 13:14 of the second, raise your hands if you had him pegged for 10 goals, 20 assists and 30 points this season…much less had him reach those numbers with 15 games remaining in the season.

Chris Kreider is heating up. Playing with jump all night, Kreider scored his 25th on a neat deflection of a Steven Kampfer—yes, Steven Kampfer!—shot to open the scoring at 9:25 of the first period. And he could have had a couple more, including on a failed second-period breakaway. Odds are Kreider notches his first 30-goal season, needing just five more in the final 15 games.

Speaking of failed breakaways, Kreider, Holden and Rick Nash all were stymied by Reimer, who was benched after allowing the Rangers fourth goal. Strange night for Reimer, who started in place of the injured Roberto Luongo.

While we’re on a somewhat negative bent, oh Derek Stepan. Missed a wide-open net on the power play early in the first. Make it 22 games without a goal for No. 21.

Stepan can look to Kevin Hayes, though, as a positive example. Hayes scored his first goal in 11 games, and forced Reimer to leave his jock on the ice in the process.

Ex-Rangers filled the building on Tuesday. Jaromir Jagr and Keith Yandle played for the Panthers. Brad Park, Steve Vickers, Bib Nevin, and Emile Francis watched from the stands. And Olli Jokinen, also an ex-Panther, was saluted in a pre-game ceremony celebrating his retirement from the NHL.