After falling down 2-0 to the St Louis Blues early, the Blueshirts were able to complete a comeback that would stall the Blues’ playoff intentions at Madison Square Garden (The Blues would clinch a playoff spot hours later). Alexander Georgiev was once again the star of the show, stopping 44 of the 46 shots he faced. Georgiev has now made at least 40 saves in a game for the sixth time in his NHL career.
Most of the first period was defensive minded, but as the final five minutes came around, the Blues found their scoring touch. The Blues took the first lead in the game as Vladimir Tarasenko scored from an impossible angle. Brayden Schenn made a short pass over to Tarasenko, and the Russian superstar put the puck on net which somehow popped over Georgiev’s pad. Just 27 seconds after the opening goal, the Blues doubled their lead. The Blueshirts caught puck watching as Jaden Schwartz flew down the right side of the ice, and everyone forgot about David Perron at the top of the crease. Schwartz made a quick pass over to Perron who tipped home the puck and gave St. Louis a commanding 2-0 lead. Shortly after, though, the Rangers and the MSG crowd received an unexpected boost. Ranger alum Sean Avery made a surprise return to the Garden and did his best to hype up the Rangers.
As a matter of fact, Mika Zibanejad would score shortly after Avery’s appearance but the beautiful backhand goal was called back for goalie interference, for Blues’ goaltender Jordan Binnington had his pad skated into by Brenadan Smith.
If one looks at the shots on goal for the second period, it would be plausible to assume that St Louis extended their lead–but with the help of Georgiev shutting down 20 opportunities and the Blueshirts scoring twice in a matter of seconds, the game would be even at the frame’s end. At 2:22, Ryan Strome was able to bring the Rangers back within a goal after tapping home a loose puck in the crease. Binnington was unable to handle a quick snapshot by Vlad Namestnikov, and wound up loosing control of the puck behind him. St. Louis was unable to clear the crease, and Strome poked home his 17th goal of the season. Since being acquired earlier in the season, Strome’s 16 goals are the most any NHL player acquired during the 2018-19 season has registered with his new team. A little over a minute later, the Rangers came back to tie the game on Pavel Buchnevich’s 19th goal of the year. Mika Zibanejad was able to collect a loose puck, and immediately fed a cross-ice pass over to Buchnevich, who without any hesitation, one-timed the puck past Binnington’s outstretched pad and knotted up the game at two just minutes into the frame. Zibanejad recorded his 71st point of the season with the goal.
Being that it’s March Madness right now, I think it’s appropiate to say that the Blueshirts “survived and advanced” through the final period. The Blues were on the attack for nearly the whole period, but yet again, Alexander Georgiev stood tall and gave the Rangers a fighting chance to take the lead. Early on, the Rangers took their first lead of the evening. Vinni Lettieri was able to scurry through the defense and dished the puck off to Brett Howden who was robbed by Binnington with the glove but Jimmy Vesey cleaned up the mess in front. Vesey has established a career high in goals, primary assists, and points.
With the Rangers just barely holding onto their 3-2 lead, they netted the insurance with eight seconds remaining to seal the deal. Chris Kreider was able to settle down a centering feed from Pavel Buchnevich and fired in his 27th of the season.
Following tonight’s comeback win, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before returning to action on Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers.