After an exciting opening night at the Garden, the Rangers traveled to Ottawa with hopes of building on their momentum following their first win of the season. David Quinn opted to stick with his same lineup with only a few minimal changes. After a less than spectacular first outing by the young defense pairing of Adam Fox and Libor Hajek, Coach Quinn decided to match the rookie defensemen with more veteran partners. Jacob Trouba was paired with Hajek while former partner Brady Skjei partnered next to Fox, splitting up the former first pairing after a strong performance against Winnipeg. Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made his first start of the season. Georgiev had an impressive camp and preseason after being tasked with playing a lot of games during garbage time last season.
The Senators also looked to build off of their game against Toronto in which they managed to battle in a game that many expected to a blowout. The Rangers were tasked with facing a familiar foe in the form of Craig Anderson, who many Rangers fan remember for his impressive playoff series in years past. Fans also got another look at future superstar Brady Tkachuk, who many expect to be a focal point of their franchises rebuild for many years to come.
The game also marked the return of Mika Zibanejad to Ottawa after his former team shipped him to New York a few years ago for former Ranger Derick Brassard and a second round pick (..yikes).
I can’t blame the kid for crying here. If someone like Steven Kampfer or Tim Gettinger even waved to me in warm-ups then I would probably start balling my eyes out and would talk about it for the next thirty years.
The game started fast faced similar to the other night. The Rangers found themselves on an early powerplay at the 04:37 mark of the first period. Similar to the first game of the year, the powerplay unit appeared to maintain consistent possession of the puck and created numerous chances in the opponent’s end. At 6:04 the Rangers struck first after Mika Zibanejad buried a loose puck following a point shot from Jacob Trouba and gave the Rangers the early 1-0 lead.
That marked Zibanejad’s second goal of the year and his fifth point in only four periods of play this season. However, the Rangers offense seemed to go quiet for most of the middle part of the period and at 12:14 of the period Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk inadvertently deflected a point shot to tie the game at one. The score remained tied at the end of the first period.
Despite an early penalty to kill to start the second, the Rangers defense held the Ottawa powerplay in check. At 9:53 of the second, the Rangers newly formed first line scored one of the most beautiful goals many fans have seen in a long time. The tick-tac-toe passing sequence of Pavel Buchnevich, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad led to another filthy goal by the Rangers center, which even left him in disgust. Although I may have been screaming at my TV seeing Buchnevich pass up a wide open net after the initial pass from Zibanejad, the result made everything quite alright.
This lines chemistry has been evident since the season opener. Despite being the catalyst for all of the blueshirts offense so far this year, they have absolutely dominated the opposition on all ends of the ice.
Only a few minutes later, Zibanejad struck again, this time a man down. After a Ottawa give away up a man, Zibanejab motored down the wing with Andersson on his opposite side and dragged the puck past the sprawling Senators defender and roofed a wrister over the shoulder of Craig Anderson.
The Rangers were beneficiaries of back to back powerplays to begin the third period. At the 02:51 mark of the third period, Artemi Panarin rocketed a one timer from Zibanejad and put the blueshirts up by three.
In addition to achieving a hat trick on the goal, it was the first time Zibanejad had scored goals at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded all in a single game. The Rangers maintained their two goal lead at the end of the second period.
The score remained the same throughout the rest of period and the Rangers left Ottawa with their second win of the season bringing their record to 2-0-0 to start the 2019-20 season. One step closer to a potential 82-0-0 season that I’m sure most overexcited Rangers fans will somehow manage to expect this early in the year.
On a serious note, the boys looked good in this matchup. Although Ottawa is anything but a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers improved on many of the issues that arose during the first game of the year. The defense looked a lot less shaky and a lot of younger players looked much improved. As mentioned earlier, both Adam Fox and Libor Hajek looked more comfortable with experienced partners and cut down on a lot of defensive zone turnovers that plagued them against the Jets. Outside of a lucky bounce in the first, Georgiev looked solid in his first appearance of the year stopping 31 of the 32 shots he faced. The Ranges penalty kill also killed all five of the powerplays they faced and brought their season mark to 9 of 10 overall. Mika Zibanejad added another four points to his season total, which brings his overall point total to eight in only two games. Zibanejad is the second player in Rangers history to have eight points through the first two games of a season since Rod Gilbert in 1976-77.
The Rangers will be on a strange, lengthy break until their next matchup. They will face the Edmonton Oilers this upcoming Saturday back in New York, where the blueshirts will hope to continue their early streak against an Oilers team led by their captain Connor McDavid, who have also started the season undefeated as well.
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