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Puempel hat trick, four power play goals give Rangers a win over the Coyotes

Bobby Bevilacqua

matt-puempel-hi-five-line-12-29

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (25-12-1) came into Arizona to face the lowly Coyotes (11-20-5), but it was an extremely close game in Glendale, one that took four power play goals and a hat trick from Matt Puempel to secure a 6-3 victory.

Puempel scored all three goals on the power play, becoming just the third Ranger to score a power play hat trick since 1986. Marc Messier (3/22/92) and Mike Gartner (1/31/94) were the other two. It was also his first career hat trick.

This was a mixed bag for the Rangers. They did a lot of things right. The offensive effort was strong, with the Rangers generating a lot of quality chances and shots, the power play running at full efficiency, and all four lines playing well in both zones. But they allowed the Coyotes to hang around and chip away at their lead until they tied the game at three. The defensive effort wasn’t all that great either. Realistically, this should have been an easy win, but the way they played at times made it difficult on themselves.

The Rangers started out extremely strong, getting two power play goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. Matt Puempel scored the first goal, trying to pass it across the crease to Nick Holden but deflecting it in off of a Coyote. Less than six minutes later, Holden scored his seventh goal of the season, converting on an excellent pass from JT Miller, who used his speed to burst through the zone and behind the net for the setup.

The Coyotes struggled to get much of anything going, but their first real extended offensive shift in the Rangers’ zone resulted in a goal. Christian Dvorak used Brady Skjei as a screen and fired an excellent shot past Antti Raanta for his fourth goal of the season, cutting the lead to one.

The second period was much of the same. The Rangers got off to a fast start again, with Chris Kreider scoring a goal on a deflection off of a Nick Holden shot. That gave Holden his second point of the night, and his 20th of the season, as well as Chris Kreider’s 12th goal of the season. He has also stepped up in the absence of Nash and Zibanejad, with eight goals and five assists in the last 14 games.

But yet again, the Rangers allowed the Coyotes to chip away at the lead. Anthony Duclair deked out Brady Skjei and sent a backhand that deflected off of Dan Girardi’s stick and past Raanta. Some bad luck, but the score was 3-2 after 40 minutes of play.

The Coyotes came out with a lot of speed and putting a ton of pressure on the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh was whistled for a questionable holding call of Duclair, and Arizona would score and tie the game up at three. Tobias Reider blew past Dan Girardi, causing Kevin Klein to have to cover both Radim Vrbata and Reider. A back-and-forth passing play resulted in an easy goal for Reider, and a tie game.

Thankfully, the Rangers fought back and played hard, drawing a penalty and scoring again on the power play. Ryan McDonagh fired a wrist shot from the point, and Matt Puempel, undefended in front of the net, deflected the puck past Smith for his second goal of the game.

With the net empty and just 26.7 seconds left on the clock, JT Miller scored an empty netter and Matt Puempel would score his third power play goal of the game less than 10 seconds later for good measure.

Overall, there were definitely more positives than negatives coming from this game tonight. The Rangers defensive effort from some players was spotty at time and they couldn’t convert on some high quality chances that would have put the game away quicker.

But they got good performances from all over the ice. Chris Kreider scored again, and has been playing at a high level alongside Derek Stepan over the last 14 games. Nick Holden scored his third goal in the last two games, and is exceeding expectations by a long shot. And Kevin Hayes picked up three primary assists and was all over the ice.

But the story here is clearly Matt Puempel. Claimed off of waivers by Ottawa, he’s been a solid addition to the team’s bottom six, with five goals and six points in 12 games. A prolific scorer in junior hockey, Puempel certainly had his scoring touch tonight and came through in the clutch. Maybe a change of scenery will continue to help him out and he can be a good depth piece moving forward.

The Rangers are back in action on New Year’s Eve against the Colorado Avalanche.

THREE STARS

  • Matt Puempel – 3 G, 5 SOG, 12:20 TOT
  • Nick Holden – 1 G, 1 A, +2, 22:27 TOT
  • Kevin Hayes – 3 A, 19:37 TOT
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Posted on December 30, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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