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Raanta, Stepan secure two points for the Rangers in Toronto; McDonagh hurt

Alexandra Russo

Antti Raanta pad save 2-18

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After one of the Rangers’ (33-19-6) most disappointing losses of the season, a 5-3 loss to the Blackhawks to conclude a three game homestand, they swept the three game season series by beating Toronto (20-27-9) by a final score of 4-2 in Toronto.

The Leafs started out strong, as it appeared the Rangers were slow out of the gate. The Rangers had a chance when Ryan McDonagh made some nifty moves and nearly put the puck past Bernier.  The Maple Leafs came down the other way, and a shot from the point was deflected by a Ranger, and landed at the skates of Parenteau and ended up in the net. After much review to see if there was a kicking motion, the call on the ice stood, and the Leafs took a one goal lead.

The Leafs, who have a power play operating at last in the League, failed to score on their first opportunity of the night. The Rangers let up three power play goals in their previous game, and their penalty killing currently stands at 28th in the League. When he was traded to the Blueshirts, Antii Raanta said, “When you’re the backup, you have to prove yourself every time.” He did just that in the first period, saving the Rangers after every giveaway. The light went on behind Raanta for the second time this period, but the puck had actually hit the crossbar after deflecting off the netminder’s stick. He also saved a chance by Boyes on a two on one down low. The score remained one to nothing.

With just under two minutes to go in the first period of play, Komarov elbowed McDonagh, who was playing in just his second game after a concussion sidelined him for four games. Komarov received a match penalty and a game misconduct. Klein didn’t approve of his captain being hit so viciously and had some words for Komarov. He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Komarov should definitely be suspended for his hit on McDonagh, especially because McDonagh never returned for the rest of the game. The Rangers claimed it was for precautionary reasons, but there is obviously reason for concern.

The second period started out with four on four hockey, but it wasn’t for long. The Rangers had a three minute major power play resulting from the Komarov penalty, and with 26 seconds left, Zuccarello got high-sticked. This resulted in a double minor on the Leafs and a 5 on 3 for the Rangers. Derick Brassard converted on the opportunity and tied the game at one, blasting a shot past Reimer off of a feed from Keith Yandle. Brassard is streaking right now, as he has 13 points in his last 10 games, including a three game goal scoring streak. Yandle’s assist extended his point streak to five games, all assists.

The Rangers didn’t convert on their second power play, but they took momentum. A brilliant takeaway by JT Miller at the blueline led to Zuccarello’s go-ahead goal. Derek Stepan took a shot right in front of Bernier, and he came up with the original save. It was Zuccarello on the other side of the net, though, ready to pick up the rebound and put it on his backhand for his 20th goal of the season, a new career high. JT Miller picked up his second assist of the night on this goal. The goal had to be reviewed and replays showed that the puck crossed the line. It looked like the Rangers had gotten their wake-up call.

Just the second bench minor penalty of the season to the Rangers put them down a man, but a strong penalty kill, and at least one great save by Raanta, kept the game in their favor, as they maintained the two to one lead.

Lindberg got called for hooking with just under three minutes to go, and the Rangers came up with a big penalty kill. Raanta again came up big for his team as he made a final save where he dove to his right to rob Parenteau. The puck bounced off his shoulder to preserve the Blueshirts’ lead.

Toronto came out strong in the third period and tested Raanta early. Staal took a cross-checking penalty one minute into the period and the Rangers managed to kill the power play. Toronto kept the pressure on, but Arcobello got stopped by Raanta from in close with a little less than 15 minutes left in the period. A fifth power play was awarded to Toronto with just under 13 minutes to play when Yandle was called for hooking, but the Rangers managed to keep the Leafs from scoring the tying goal. The Ranges were 5 for 5 on the penalty kill.

Midway through the third period, the shots on goal were 31-18 for the Leafs, a clear sign of the direction of play in the game, but Raanta continued to keep the Rangers ahead with key saves late in the period. Yandle mishandled a puck at the Leafs blueline and it led to a chance on the other end for Arcobello, but Raanta bailed out his teammates once again.

With over two minutes to go, the Leafs pulled the goalie and the extra skater paid off. A scramble in front led to the tying goal by Colin Greening and the game was tied. Greening cross checked Moore on the play, but the refs never made the call.

But just 59 seconds later, the Rangers responded. JT Miller, who played an inspired game, made an unbelievable play stealing the puck again in the Toronto zone. He fed Zuccarello who then made a great feed to Stepan who buried the puck in the back of the net.

Toronto pulled the goalie again, but this time the Rangers made them pay.  Again, Miller’s toughness caused a turnover that led to an empty net goal by Brassard. Zuccarello was very unselfish on the play, as he passed the puck when he could have taken a shot at the empty net.

Raanta deserves a lot of credit for the win, as he made 35 saves and overcame some bad stretches of play by his teammates. After a shaky game against the Kings, he rebounded tremendously and played very well tonight.JT Miller is continuing to develop into a potential star with his play, and showed his versatility by not just scoring goals tonight. Derick Brassard continues to score goals and produce offensively, and Mats Zuccarello has found consistency and chemistry alongside Derek Stepan on the second line. Speaking of him, Stepan has really picked up his play, and has been one of the Rangers best forwards in the past four games or so.

Catch the Rangers when they play the Red Wings on Sunday at 7 pm.

FOUR STARS

1) Derek Stepan – 1 G, 1 A, +2, 4 SOG, 18:33 TOT

2) JT Miller – 3 A, +3, 15:32 TOT

3) Mats Zuccarello – 1 G, 2 A, +3, 2 SOG, 17:13 TOT

4) Antti Raanta – 35 SVS, .946 SV%

HONORABLE MENTION: Derick Brassard – 2 G, 3 SOG, 17:17 TOT

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Posted on February 19, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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