This original six match up started out excitingly with a nice tribute to the 1980 USA Gold Medal-Winning Olympic Team. The festivities continued with former Blackhawks defenseman and Olympic Gold-Medalist Jack O’Callahan dropping the puck in front of Patrick Kane and former teammate Artemi Panarin.
This game was very important for both teams. Having been off since Sunday and both teams being several points out of a wild-card spot in their respective conferences, this was a must-win game on both sides of the ice.
The Rangers did not waste very much time when Filip Chytil scored 1:58 into the first period. He sent a fast sniper-shot right underneath Robin Lehner, who would really like to have that one back.
Roughly three minutes into the game Slater Koekkoek took a bone-headed trip to the penalty box on a tripping penalty sending the Rangers to the power-play. Thankfully, the Blackhawks killed this opportunity.
The Rangers dominated the majority of the first, spending a lot of time in the offensive zone but with 2:06 left in the opening frame, Brett Howden was called for a slash on Alexander Nylander. The Blackhawks came very close to tying up the game when Alex DeBrincat smashed the post and then the Rangers killed the rest of the power-play. Right as the period was about to come to a close, the Rangers had a last-second breakaway chance with Howden barreling down on Lehner.
Rangers lead 1-0 at the end of the first period. The Blackhawks could not get past the brick-wall in New York rookie-goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
The second period opened in a similar fashion only this time it was the Blackhawks, only 2:29 into the frame, and Duncan Keith notching his 500th career assist in setting up Dominick Kubalik beautifully to tie the game at one goal apiece.
Only ten seconds later, the Blackhawks got their second power-play of the evening when Brendan Lemieux was sent to the penalty box. The Rangers killed this power-play and the score is still tied at one. This power-play definitely seemed to awaken the Blackhawks as their offensive presence increased dramatically.
Then, Alex Nylander was sent to the box for roughing at 9:26. He didn’t commit the penalty, he served it on behalf of Robin Lehner’s dumb mistake. Thankfully, the score remained the same after these two minutes.
With about seven minutes left of the second period, Kirby Dach was tripped for a delayed penalty. The Blackhawks had two or three very decent scoring chances before the Rangers finally stopped the play. The Rangers killed the ensuing power-play with ease as the Blackhawks only registered one shot on goal.
A scary incident occurred when Jonathan Toews got the handle of his stick caught in the face mask of Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.
The two teams traded scoring chances with both goalies coming up big in the clutch. The game is tied 1-1 after two periods.
The second intermission report, Four Feathers style below:
The tie game was broken two and a half minutes into the final period when Chris Kreider fed a crisp pass to Pavel Buchnevich.
A few seconds went by and Olli Maata was called for a holding penalty. Ryan Strome cashed in on the power-play when he came across a rebound right off Lehner, where Lehner had no chance to stop it. The Rangers now lead 3-1.
Just over six minutes into the third period, Drake Caggiula somehow found Dominick Kubalik on a freak-pass which lead to a breakaway chance for Kubalik. He made a nice deke move and scored his second goal of the evening and 25th of the season! 3-2 in favor of the Rangers still.
Chris Kreider caught a long pass on his skates, speeding into the offensive zone and scored. He deked out Lehner and put it right past him. Rangers lead 4-2.
Less than a minute later, Dylan Strome left a puck right in front of the net giving Artemi Panarin a wide-open shot that went top-shelf right over Lehner who had zero chance to stop it. Rangers lead 5-2.
With 8:21 left in regulation, Jonathan Toews threw a quick pass to Caggiula who was right in front of the net and Caggiula buried it at light speed past Shesterkin.
Just over six minutes were left in the game when Mika Zibanejad buried the puck past Robin Lehner to increase the Rangers’ lead to 6-3, which ended up being the final score.
The Rangers seem to have found the perfect replacement for Henrik Lundqvist in goaltender Igor Shesterkin who stopped 37 of 40 shots. Robin Lehner struggled tonight with little help from the Blackhawks defense and stopped 35 of 41 shots. The Blackhawks missed out on two crucial points in the standings tonight and have a tough test ahead of them. They take on Nashville on Friday night at 7:30 and they virtually need every point possible at this point if they have any hope of making the playoffs.