After suffering a tough loss against the Devils in the previous game, the Rangers looked to improve their record to .500 against the Penguins. Unfortunately, In a thrilling Friday night hockey game, the Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss in a shootout. This second straight loss drops the Rangers record to 1-2-1 in the first four games of the season. Although they did pick up a point at the end of regulation, Rangers fans are going to be biting their tongues after this game which seemed within reach from the first-period puck drop. Nevertheless, the Rangers manage to make more strides towards developing their young players. At the end of the day, the scoreboard doesn’t truly tell the story of how this game really went for the Rangers.
A Hot-Start For The Rangers
After two days of hard work at practice along with some interesting line changes, the Rangers took the ice looking different yet again. The Ranger’s 2020 first overall draft pick, Alexis Lafreniere, found his way onto the first line beside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. As for the second line, Pavel Buchnevich found himself alongside Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome with the hopes of improving their play after his hot start to the season. On defense, Tony DeAngelo found himself back in the lineup replacing Brendan Smith after being benched for a couple of games due to a misconduct penalty taken in the first game of the season against the Islanders. Basically, to sum it all up, David Quinn has juggled these lines around more than a clown at a circus. Yet, to many fans’ surprise, the Rangers started the period with lightning speed.
Although the Rangers trailed 1-0 after the first period, they quickly answered back with three unanswered goals. As they headed into the third period, they were still leading 3-2. On top of this, the Penguins never had many quality scoring chances. As for the two goals Sheshterkin allowed, both were unlucky goals.
Late Game Slip Up
With the Penguins coming within the grasp of winning the game, the Rangers knew they could be in trouble soon. As the period progressed, the Penguins and Rangers would volley back and forth high-quality shifts. Unfortunately for the Rangers, with a little less than half the period to go in the third, Teddy Blueger cashed in on a goal that initially bounced off the boards and right onto his stick. From there, both teams continued to apply pressure throughout the third period and in overtime. With both teams unable to break the ice and notch a fourth goal, a shootout is what wound up deciding the winner. Since the Penguins were the home team, they gave it the first go.
Penguins’ talented forward, Jake Guentzel, beat Sheshterkin in the first round giving the Penguins an early upper hand. In the second round, Artemi Panarin beat Tristan Jarry five-hole to knot it at one. However, with the ever so dangerous Kris Letang up at center ice, the Penguins went ahead with two goals on Letangs bar-down backhander. Finally, to keep the Ranger’s hopes alive, DeAngelo gave it a go but was denied by Jarry with the left pad to give the Penguins the edge.
Takeaways From Tonights Game
Although the Rangers did not end up in the left column at the end of the night, they played a universally sound hockey game. A big step in the right direction for the Rangers came from their young-guns. To my point, each of the Ranger’s three goals was scored by a player who is 22 years old or younger. These players of course being Filip Chytil, Adam Fox, and Kaapo Kakko. Not only did these three youngsters make an impact on the scoresheet but they also improved the play of their team as a whole. It appears, after this game, that Kakko and Chytil are both feeding off each other well. I’ve always believed these two players were going to have a breakout year and that is definitely within the realm of possibility at this rate.
All in all, the Rangers youth was on full display tonight. Going forward, as chemistry strengthens, the Rangers will hopefully find a way to hold on to these nail bitters collectively and as a team.