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Rangers ride two from Mika and performance from Kane to 5-3 win

March 15, 2023, 7:59 PM ET [45 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers dominated action early, then hung on for a 5-3 win over the Capitals. New York jumped to a 4-1 lead early in the second before Washington rallied to make it a one-goal game with just over eight minutes remaining. Jimmy Vesey's empty-net goal sealed the victory. The Blueshirts face the Penguins, who lost last night to the Canadiens, at home tomorrow and Saturday.

Game recap:



A few thoughts:
1) Offense - we saw flashes of the damage the offense can do. Better speed through the neutral zone and increased chemistry were apparent the first 25 or so minutes of the game. The top-six was especially effective creating time and space with their speed and creativity while the Kid Line cycled the puck, using their ability to play physical, to maintain possession in the offensive zone. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin and Sonny Milano, but the way New York played the first period-plus is how team management and the coaching staff envisioned the potential impact of adding Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane.

The building chemistry between Mika Zibanejad, who scored twice, and Tarasenko was on display, especially on Zib's first goal. Similar for Artemi Panarin and Zib on his second goal following a ridiculous pass from Igor Shesterkin to the opposing blue line. Patrick Kane looked the best offensively he has in New York since his acquisition. Kane and Vincent Trocheck also showed building chemistry, combining with Chris Kreider to outshoot the Capitals, 10-4, in their time on ice together.

2) Defense - still a work-on-progress. All the good from the first 25 minutes were almost washed away with the continuing D zone issues. New York outshot the Caps in the opening 20 minutes, 19-9, while generating seven high-danger scoring chances and not allowing any, according to Natural Stat Trick.

After the first, the team became a lot looser with the puck and their neutral/own zone coverage was significantly lacking. Gap control, picking up the trailer, handoffs within the D zone all fell apart after the score was 4-1. We saw snippets of those concerns earlier in the game, but Washington didn't convert, but that was not the case from the five minute mark in the second.

Kane's line were prominent in that regard, but the mistakes were collective not individual, as the blue line didn't help in that regard. Knowing when to be aggressive, how to recover, how to compensate if your line mate is out of position all hopefully improve. If not, the pressure on the offense to make up for the D mistakes. You wonder if coach Gerard Gallant will change combinations and manage ice time late if nursing a one goal lead.

3) The fourth line of Vesey, Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Motte was effective once again. This trio needs to be on the ice protecting a one-goal lead late. The chemistry and attention to detail from each of the three is very apparent, which results in offensive chances off the forecheck. Maybe Gallant can show the remainder of the team how this line plays to reinforce what the ask is from each of them.

4) Ryan Lindgren skated on his own this morning and did not practice. This means he will miss his ninth straight game tomorrow. Far from ideal and the D-pairings we have seen lately will remain intact. Adam Fox has really missed his pair mate, but as good as Fox is, he needs to find his way out of this malaise and back to the player we have seen since he joined the league.

5) Game Notes:  It was Zibanejad's ninth multi-goal game of the season. He has 20 points in his past 18 games (12 goals, eight assists). … Kane has 400 NHL power-play points (124 goals, 276 assists). … Igor Shesterkin reached 30 wins for the second consecutive season, the first Rangers goalie to do so since Henrik Lundqvist (four seasons, 2013-14 - 2016-17).

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