Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes was an even contest through 40 minutes, but the New York Rangers found another level in the third period to storm to a 5-1 victory.
That late game rally handed Rangers coach Alain Vigneault his 500th career win. He’s the 21st bench boss to ever reach that mark and is tied with Toe Blake. He also needs just one more victory to reach Pat Burns. Vigneault, 53, is playing in his second season with New York after previously serving with Montreal and Vancouver.
Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal, and Lee Stempniak each found the back of the net for the Rangers, although Hayes’ shorthanded goal is particularly noteworthy given the angle he fired that at:
Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith stopped just 27 of 32 shots and he now has a 3.27 GAA and .896 save percentage in 41 contests this season.
The Rangers have won nine of their last 13 contests to thrust themselves into contention for the Metropolitan Division title. They’re still trailing the New York Isalnders (who also won tonight) by four points though.
Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta had an eventful game against the New York Islanders. He got two shots on goal, which sadly accounted for 20% of Buffalo’s total, and he was involved in a bizarre incident in the first period.
Gionta’s stick ended up getting caught in Frans Nielsen’s skate, knocking the 30-year-old forward to the ice. Buffalo’s captain continued to skate forward, dragging Nielsen from one end of the ice to the other as he tried to free his stick.
Nielsen, who was playing in his 500th game, was fine and went on to record an assist in the Islanders’ 3-2 victory.
That certainly doesn’t happen every game, but when it does it doesn’t always result in one player dragging the other. For example, Edmonton forward Nail Yakupov got his stick caught in Ryan Ellis’ skate earlier this season and stopped playing to help untangle the Predators’ defenseman:
Scott Hannan also got his stick stuck in Rick Nash’s skate back in March 2014, but in that case Hannan let go of his stick:
Out of necessity, the New York Rangers went to their back-up goalie Cam Talbot for Wednesday’s Rivalry Night game against the Boston Bruins.
Henrik Lundqvist, who took a puck to the throat on Saturday, is dealing with a neck injury and is now listed as day-to-day. So the Rangers turned to Talbot, who turned aside 18 of 20 shots faced in a 3-2 victory over the Bruins.
The Rangers are in Nashville to face the Predators on Saturday. According to Andrew Gross of The Record, citing head coach Alain Vigneault, it’s possible Lundqvist does not accompany the team on that trip.
The New York Rangers had the lead, then within the span of less than two minutes, they were trailing the Boston Bruins late in the first period on Rivalry Night.
Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scored just 1:52 apart, turning a Bruins deficit into a Bruins 2-1 lead, which they carried into the second period. Rick Nash opened the scoring for New York, recording his 32nd goal of the season.
During the 2003-04 campaign, Rick Nash won his first and only Rocket Richard award as the league’s top sniper, finishing with 41 goals to share the honors with Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla.
More than 10 years later, Nash is looking for Rocket No. 2.
Nash scored his league-leading 32nd goal of the season to open Rivalry Night against the Bruins on Wednesday, potting on the backhand after assists from Martin St. Louis and Chris Kreider:
The goal moved Nash one ahead of Washington captain Alex Ovechkin and into sole possession of top spot in the league. New York’s prized sniper is now on pace for 53 goals this season, which would be a career-high and smash his old personal best, set in ’03-04.