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Rangers take over first place in the division with comeback win over Coyotes

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers battled back for a win over the Coyotes, expending their point streak to 10 games, managing to do so without Henrik Lundqvist. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a rough first period, the Rangers (38-16-6) managed to find a way to crawl back into the game, scoring three times to take down the Arizona Coyotes (20-35-7), extending their point streak to 10 games (8-0-2), and giving the team yet another four game win streak.

With the win, the Rangers tied the Islanders with 82 points, but since they have two games in hand, took sole possession of first place for the first time this season. The last time that the Rangers were in first place was following the first game of the season, where they were tied with three other teams.

The Rangers are 10-1-2 this month, equaling the franchise record for wins in February set in 1972 (10-2-2). They are now 27-6-2 since December 8th.

The Rangers had multi-goal games from two different players; Chris Kreider doing the dirty work on the power play, and Lee Stempniak scoring both of the even strength goals. In fact, the Rangers power play was finally effective tonight, scoring twice and was a huge factor to the Rangers comeback

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Chris Kreider had a great game, scoring two goals, both on the power play, and sparking the Rangers comeback. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Chris Kreider’s two power play goals gave him a career-high seven on the season, which is first place on the team. He has really awakened since the All Star break, maybe a bit earlier, and he is becoming a consistently dangerous player. His speed and strength are nearly impossible for teams to contain on most nights as well. Kreider is third on the team in goals (16) and sixth in points (33).

Like they have been doing for the last few weeks, the Rangers fourth line was very strong again. Lee Stempniak was the catalyst, scoring two goals, including the game winner with 2:14 left in the game. Tanner Glass may have played his best game of the season, recording four shots on goal and generating a lot of offensive pressure. His offensive presence opened up the ice for Stempniak, and the trio worked well together again tonight.

Cam Talbot started for the Rangers, and really struggled in the beginning. He allowed three first period goals, but bounced back, finishing the game with 37 saves. The resiliency from Talbot was key to keeping the Rangers in the game. Talbot is 8-1-2 since taking over as starter, and points in nine straight appearances, so it’s hard to ask much more from him.

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Cam Talbot recovered from a bad first period, eventually finishing with 37 saves and picking up his 12th win of the season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The game started out about as bad as it could, with the Coyotes scoring just 41 seconds into the game on their first shot. Marc Arcobello scored his fifth goal as a Coyote in just seven games, shooting through Kevin Klein and getting the Coyotes on board early.

The Rangers would come extremely close in the next few minutes, but were robbed by Mike Smith in net. Tanner Glass nearly scored his first of the season, but Smith got a blocker on the shot. Smith would then make two huge saves on JT Miller and Martin St. Louis, keeping New York scoreless for the time being.

Later, Zuccarello battled along the boards, drawing a penalty. And it was Chris Kreider scoring his 15th goal of the season to tie the game at one. It was a fantastic passing play, with Kevin Hayes deking through defenders and threading a pass through Smith and a defender to an open Chris Kreider.

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Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes connected on the power play, tying the game at one in the early stages of the first period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Both teams began to get high quality chances, but the floodgates would open when the Rangers started taking penalties. St. Louis took the first penalty for tripping, and Kevin Klein followed with a delay of game penalty 1:03 later, giving Arizona a 5-on-3 opportunity.

Sam Gagner scored on the two man advantage, faking a pass and beating an out of position Talbot for the first power play goal. Just 1:26 later, Gagner scored on the remaining power play. A slap shot from the point was bounced around in front of the net, and Gagner collected the puck and fired it through the legs of Talbot. Suddenly, the Rangers were facing a two goal deficit.

The Ranger clearly went into the locker room and discussed how they needed to erase that three goal, 17 shots against period. And the Rangers responded with a stronger second period.

The Rangers put on the pressure early, generating their chances and building up momentum. It worked, and Lee Stempniak scored on a deflection for his 8th goal of the season, cutting the lead to one. John Moors had the only assist, plucking the puck out of midair and back on the ice before firing the quick slap shot that was deflected in.

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The Rangers celebrate after Lee Stempnia kdeflected the puck past Mike Smith for his first goal of the game. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Coyotes would go on and hit the post on three separate occasions, including Lucas Lessio hitting both posts before Cam Talbot was able to cover up.

The turning point in the period came at the 10:22 more, when Kevin Klein took a four minute double-minor for high sticking, sending the 5th best power play unit back to work. However, the Rangers stood tall, dominating on the penalty kill and not allowing a single shot on goal.

Lee Stempniak drew a holding penalty, leading to another power play opportunity for New York. The Rangers got away with a high sticking call, and the faceoff wound up going in the Rangers zone with 18.8 seconds remaining in the period. The Arizona defenseman missed the puck off of the faceoff, and Kreider used his blazing speed for a breakaway. His initial shot was blocked, but he followed it up, backhanding it past Smith and trying the game at three.

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Chris Kreider celebrates after scoring his second power play goal to tie the game at three in the closing seconds of the second period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

It was Kreider’s first two goal game this season, and his third of his career. It also gave the Rangers multiple power play goals for the first time since January 8th against the Los Angeles Kings.

Cam Talbot made a few good saves in the third period, presenting the Rangers with an opportunity to take the lead in the third period. With just 2:14 remain, the Rangers did exactly that, and it was Lee Stempniak scoring his second goal of the game to give New York their first lead of the game.

Kevin Hayes won the offensive zone faceoff, and after some cycling, would eventually get the puck near the point. Hayes’ wrist shot was stopped, but Lee Stempniak was alone in front. His first backhand was stopped by the pad of Smith, but he got his own rebound, going top shelf on a backhand for his ninth goal of the season, and the Rangers finally had a lead.

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Lee Stempniak celebrates after scoring the game winning goal with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

After some big saves and strong defense in the last two minutes, the Rangers found a way to win yet again, showing their resiliency and ability to battle back again in crucial moments. Despite playing the last 12 games without Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers are 9-1-2, and are now first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Rangers next game will be on Saturday, when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers on the road, the final meeting between the two teams this season. The Rangers will play six of their next seven games on the road.

THREE STARS

1) Lee Stempniak – 2 G, 5 SOG, +2

2) Chris Kreider – 2 G, 5 SOG

3) Kevin Hayes – 2 A

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Posted on February 27, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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