Zuccarello leads the charge as Rangers top the Blues in nine goal thriller

Bobby Bevilacqua

mats zuccarello goal celebration 10-13

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

In a game that was supposed to be a low scoring, defensive affair, the Rangers (12-2-2) and the Blues (11-4-1) combined for nine goals, as New York skated away with their seventh consecutive victory and remaining the hottest team in the NHL.

On top of the win streak, the Rangers also extended their point streak to 11 games (9-0-2), and they have not lost in regulation since October 15th in Montreal. The 12 wins are a franchise best through the first 16 games of a season, while their 26 points to start the season tied a franchise record from 1970-71.

Affectionately dubbed “The Stat,” with the Rangers win, they’ve improved their record to 160-1-9 in the last 170 games when leading after two periods.

Coming into the game, Henrik Lundqvist and Jake Allen were both coming off of shutouts, with Allen holding a 165:59 shutout streak coming into this game. Both teams had top-four team goals against averages and a good defensive corps. It didn’t seem like there would be a lot of goals. But it was quite the opposite.

The goal scoring came early for the Rangers, with the top line coming through yet again. Off of an offensive zone faceoff, Nash passed the puck off to Mats Zuccarello behind the net. Zuccs managed to split two defenders and find Brassard in front of the net for a tap in, beating Jake Allen less than five minutes into the game.

The Blues looked to counter following the opening goal, but Henrik Lundqvist made what seemed like his sixth save of the year candidate, getting away with highway robbery, using his goal stick to stop Alexander Steen.

After the save, Zuccarello added to his points total with a highlight reel goal, his eighth of the season. Zuccarello carried the puck through the neutral zone, beating Jay Bouwmeester and going one-on-one with Allen. He placed his shot perfectly, beating the goalie up high for his eighth goal of the season.

Shortly after that, the third line combined for a perfectly executed play leading to the third goal of the first period for the Rangers. Lindberg chipped an outlet pass over to Stalberg, and he connected with Kevin Hayes making a rush down the ice. Hayes deked out Jake Allen before sliding the puck through his legs, putting New York up 3-0 and sending the Blues goalie to the bench in favor of Brian Elliot.

Right after the change, the Blues swung momentum back in their favor after Dimitrij Jaskin scored off of a bad rebound left by Lundqvist. St. Louis began to seriously apply pressure, dominating the latter half of the period and hitting the crossbar twice. After the first 20 minutes, the Blues were up in shots 16-7.

That domination carried over into the second period with Vadimir Tarasenko scoring his eighth goal of the season, beating Lundqvist over the shoulder with a perfectly placed snipe.

Yet again, New York answered back with a goal of their own. JT Miller shot a wrister through traffic in front of the net, and the puck eflected off of a St. Louis defender before finding the back of the net. Miller’s third goal of the season was assisted by Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi.

But you guessed it, St. Louis came back with a goal of their own on the power play. The Rangers were pinned back in their own zone for too long, and St. Louis exploited the open ice. The passing was crisp as Robby Fabri and Scott Gomez connected with Troy Brouwer for a goal, cutting the lead to one yet again.

In the third period, after being outshot 26-15 through the first 40 minutes, the Rangers played much better in the final period, closing the gap in shots on goal and sealing the win with two more goals.

On their first power play opportunity, Ryan McDonagh scored his second goal in as many games. Mats Zuccarello controlled the flow of play, holding the puck and setting up McDonagh for the one-timer. Derek Stepan had the other assist on the play.

ryan mcdonagh pass 10-19

Photo courtesy of MSG Photo.


Dan Girardi would seal the deal with an empty net goal, his second of the season.

This was probably one of the most exciting games of the season to watch from a fan standpoint. Back and forth scoring, lots of goals and some really great plays. But honestly, the Rangers didn’t really play all that well again.

I don’t mean that they were lagging behind the whole game or looked lost, but they were outshot and outpossed for practically the entire game. This seems to be the typical storyline for the Rangers recently. They get outshot, don’t control possession, yet they manage to capitalize on their best chances. I don’t know if it’s sustainable, but they’re doing just fine now.

Rick Nash is back, and he’s had a big impact when playing alongside Brassard and Zuccarello. In the four games that the trio has played since being put back together, they’ve scored 22 points (7-15-22). Zuccarello is emerging as a goal scorer, and looks like he’s primed for a breakout season.

I’ve been critical of Dan Girardi and the play of some others, but I think I’ve been pretty fair. Tonight may have been Girardi’s best game of the season. I thought he made a few really nice defensively plays, particularly a deflected pass on a play that likely would have led to a St. Louis goal. He also had a goal and an assist and played a good all-around game.

It’s also nice to see McDonagh scoring again. He needs the confidence booster, and getting the offensive aspect of his game going again would be huge.

Not much to say about Lundqvist, but he made 31 saves for his ninth win of the season. When the Rangers were backed up against the wall, Henrik kept the Rangers ahead throughout the game.

The Rangers will be back for a matinee matchup on Saturday afternoon against the Senators.


  1. Mats Zuccarello – 1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, 16:41 TOT
  2. Henrik Lundqvist – 31 SV, .912 SV%
  3. Dan Girardi – 1 G, 1 A, 5 BS, 3 HT, 19:24 TOT

Posted on November 13, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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