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Rangers dominate in the desert over Coyotes; Vigneault earns 500th career win

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers used a dominating third period to propel past the Arizona Coyotes for their third straight win on the road trip. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (33-16-5) ended the Annual Fathers trip on a high note, exploding for four goals in the third period to take down the Arizona Coyotes (20-30-7) for their third straight win. With the win, Alain Vigneault became the 21st coach in NHL history to reach the 500 win mark. He has also reached that milestone in the fourth fewest contests, having coached just 942 games in the NHL.

The Rangers have won the first three games of their road trip, and are 6-1-1 in their last eight games, as well as 4-1-1 since Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined with the vascular injury.

Cam Talbot has started all six games since Lundqvist went down with the injury, and had his best game of that stretch, making some outstanding saves, including one on a penalty shot, to pick up his eighth win of the season. Talbot finished with 34 saves, and was fantastic in the first two periods to keep the Coyotes at bay.

Although the Coyotes played last night, they certainly did not appear to be a tired team. Mike Smith started in goal for the Coyotes, despite starting on Friday, and was solid in the first two periods, making some key saves early to keep the game close.

No goals were scored in the first period, both teams saw atrong goaltending. Talbot mad a big save on an open Antoine Vermette in front, and then would kick out the pad the make a save on a deflection later in the period.

The Rangers, who have had a knack for scoring the game’s first goal, did so again against Arizona, and it was Chris Kreider using a burst of speed for his 13th goal of the season. Kevin Klein chipped it out of the Rangers zone, and Derek Stepan hit Kreider in stride. Kreider used his speed to beat his defender before making a great move to slide it past Mike Smith’s pad, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

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Chris Kreider celebrates after scoring his 13th goal of the season, using a burst of speed and a great deke to beat Mike Smith. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Kevin Klein’s assist on the play would give him his 22nd point of the season, setting a new career high for him. Klein would pick up another assist later in the game, giving him 15 on the season and a total of 23 points.

The Coyotes didn’t waste a lot of time answering back, and it was Antoine Vermette scoring his 13th goal of the season on a very nice play. Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot a puck at Talbot, which was going wide. Vermette stopped the puck with his leg, positioning it perfectly for a tap in past Talbot, and knotting the game at one.

Cam Talbot may have made his best save of the game in this period, first stopping an initial wrist shot, and following that up with a sprawling left pad save to deny Lucas Lessio on the doorstep.

The first two periods were pretty evenly matched, and you have to give Credit to the Coyotes. They were playing extremely hard, putting forth a good effort, and Mike Smith made some big saves in net for Arizona.

The Rangers came out flying in the third period, and were rewarded for their efforts with an early goal. Kevin Klein made a gorgeous pass along the boards to Rick Nash, and the Blueshirts suddenly had a 2-on-1. Nash ripped a wrist shot off the crossbar and in, giving him a league leading 35 goals this season.

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Rick Nash scored his league leading 35th goal in the third period, in what would eventually be the game winner. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Nash now has goals in 28 different games this season, and has exploded for seven goals and five assists in his last eight games. He now has a three game point streak, with six points (2-4-6) in that span.

Derick Brassard picked up an assist on the goal, tying his career high of 30 assists in a season. Brassard is third on the team with 43 points (13-30-43) this season.

Shortly after the goal, the Coyotes had a huge chance to swing momentum back in their favor. Tobias Rieder was tripped on a breakaway, giving him a chance to score on a penalty shot. On the penalty, Talbot made a fantastic save, closing the pads on Rieder as he tried to go through Talbot’s five hole.

Arizona would get another opportunity, when Derick Brassard sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. But it was the Rangers scoring their fourth shorthanded goal in their past eight games. Kevin Hayes took advantage of his increased responsibility, and scored his first career shorthanded goal.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson stick snapped on a slap shot attempt, and Kevin Hayes intercepted the puck. He avoided a diving Coyote, and went on the rush with Tanner Glass. Hayes skated around a sliding Ekman-Larsson, and skated towards Smith, finding the back of the net on a perfectly placed top-shelf shot.

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Kevin Hayes scored in his third consecutive game, finding the back of the net for his first career shorthanded goal. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The goal was Hayes’ 10th of the season, extending his point streak to five games, and giving him goals in three straight games. Kevin Hayes now has 25 points (10-15-25) in his promising rookie campaign.

The Rangers would continue to add on to their lead, and it was Marc Staal scoring his fourth goal of the season. Following a Derek Stepan shot on net, the puck was loose in the crease, with nobody sure of where it was. Stepan worked the puck out to Staal, who blasted a slap shot past a defender and in, and New York had a 4-1 lead. Martin St. Louis had the second assist.

Lee Stempniak would score the final goal for the Rangers, cashing in on Dan Girardi’s rebound and sneaking one past Mike Smith for his seventh goal of the season. The goal ended a 13 game pointless streak for Stempniak. Dominic Moore and Dan Girardi had the two assists.

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Lee Stempniak finished off the night with his seventh goal of the season, ending a 13 game pointless streak. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Since losing in overtime to the Dallas Stars, the Rangers have been on a tear on their road trip. They have exploded for 16 goals in the last three games, scoring at least five goals in all three games.

The Rangers are fourth in the league in goals for per game, sitting just above three goals per game (3.07), and with just 131 goals against, they are also fourth in the league in goals against per game (2.43).

I mentioned it before, but Cam Talbot had an outstanding game. Making 34 saves, many of them timely saves in the first two periods to keep the game tied at one, Talbot stood on his head today in his best start of the season. Talbot is 4-1-1 since taking over as starter, and will face a tough task when the Rangers take on the Islanders on Monday.

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cam Talbot was marvelous, stopping 34 shots in his best game of the season, guiding the Rangers to a 4-1-1 record with him as starter. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Chris Kreider’s goal was a thing of beauty. Kreider seems to have gotten better, utilizing his speed very well and using his strength in new and creative ways. Kreider is growing into another scoring threat for the Rangers.

Kevin Hayes continues to improve, and is playing some tremendous hockey lately. Hayes is learning to play off of the puck, and is growing into a smart, defensive player on top of his flashes of offensive brilliance. The third line is developing really nicely, and Hayes may be the long-term answer at that position.

Martin St. Louis had his best game in a while. He picked up an assist, giving him 38 points (14-24-38) this season, and made a few really good backchecking plays throughout the game. It was a good showing from St. Louis, and the goals will start coming soon.

Almost every game, I get the pleasure of mentioning Rick Nash. His goal, the game winner, was the league leading 35th goal for him this season. He has spread out his scoring as well, and it feels like he has a point almost every single night. While most players score in bunches, it is not often that you see a player performing as consistently as Nash is right now, and he is truly having an MVP Caliber season.

The Rangers will conclude their four game road trip when they head into the Nassau Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders, who have won their last four games and sit atop the Metropolitan Division.

THREE STARS

1) Cam Talbot – 34 SV, .971 SV%

2) Rick Nash – 1 G, 4 SOG

3) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 4 SOG, 4 HT, +2

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Posted on February 15, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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