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Rangers win wild/thrilling game at MSG 5-4 on Lafreniere's overtime goal

February 7, 2023, 2:56 PM ET [534 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers defeated the Flames 4-3 in overtime Monday in a contest that had everything. Spectacular goals, top-tier saves, resounding checks, lots of chippiness, several fights, defensive breakdowns and plays that made the crowd gasp and brought them out of their seats. 

Condensed Game: (once the NHL posts the embeddable version of the game recap I will add)

A few thoughts:
1) The Kid Line: Lafreniere-Chyil-Kakko continued to roll. Alexis Lafreniere scored the game-winner in overtime, capping a very strong game by the winger. On the winning tally, Lafreniere made a great read not to go behind the net after the shot by Mika Zibanejad, staying in front and then showing patience to wait and beat Jacob Markstrom. 

Filip Chytil mania continues to run wild. Two more tallies, extending his scoring streak to four games, with goals Nos. 17 and 18 in the win. He now has 13 points in 12 games, setting new career-highs in goals and points while sitting just one assist shy of tying his high in that category, What is even better for the future is his willingness for the most part to shoot and the increased speed we have seen from him this year which was not apparent in the past.

Kakko’s assist also established a new career high in points (24) for the Finnish winger, who now has nine goals and 15 assists in 50 games. This trio has to remain together. We know it's a crutch for Gerard Gallant that he uses when he feels the team needs a spark. But the production we have seen from the three, especially if Laf can build off this game - cognizant of it only being one game - is a major reason why the group should stay as a unit. 

2) Trouba Train: Two clean hits on Dillon Dube and Nazem Kadri, both shoulder to shoulder or chest, elbow tucked, skates remaining on the ice and neither one late. As Larry Brooks noted, in both instances, Trouba was forced to drop the gloves when assaulted in the check’s aftermath. First, it was Chris Tanev, who got an extra two for roughing but escaped an instigator penalty. Second, it was Dube, who was pummeled for his trouble before being tagged with the instigator and accompanying 10-minute misconduct.

The Rangers received a power play in each case and took advantage of the second one with Mika Zibanejad scoring the first of his two goals. I completely understand why Calgary retaliated, even though both hits were legal. If the inverse had happened and a Flame hit a Ranger similarly, if the team didn't respond, we would be up in arms. Trouba's hits have become difference makers, as seen first in last year's players against Sidney Crosby, followed by his fight and helmet throwing versus Chicago earlier this season.

3) Sammy Blais - Skating in his usual spot on the wing of the fourth line alongside Jake Leschyshyn and Will Cuylle, who was recalled from the minors and played 7:46, Blais, who was on the ice for 8:47, replaced Julien Gauthier, who had played in the Rangers’ final three games before the layoff after working his way back from a stint on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Blais was physical throughout, with his shoulder-to-shoulder hit that first was called penalty and then reversed, resulting in a fight and then continued slashes across the calves by Milan Lucic.

Brooks added what I noted in my prior column. It's difficult to envision both Blais and Cuylle remaining on the club unless the Rangers are, A) going to carry a 23-man max roster for longer than anticipated; or, B) going to expose Julien Gauthier to waivers; or, C) have a deal coming up sooner than later that would send Vitali Kravtsov out of town. For now, New York likely will stick with a 23-man roster, though they could option Cuylle down each off-day and call him back up each game-day to at least accrue some additional cap space. If Barclay Goodrow remains on the third line, the team will need a better fourth line center than Leschyshyn.

4) Jaroslav Halak was up and down. Several great saves, a blown call - in my opinion by the officials on Andrew Mangiapane's non "kicked" goal - but at least one weak goal on Michael Stone's point shot. His defense didn't help Halak all that much, though he showed some rust at times at well. New York picked up a win and enabled Igor Shesterkin to get some rest after the All-Star game festivities. I wonder if Halak plays against Seattle on Friday and Igor goes Saturday in Carolina.

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