The Rangers begin their four-game western conference road trip tonight, in an original six matchup vs the Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET, MSG).
The Rangers enter the game with momentum coming off a five to two win against the Panthers. After a poor first period which saw the Panthers ahead by a power play goal from Vincent Trocheck, the Rangers came out flying in the second. Mika Zibanejad tied the game on a short-handed goal. The Rangers would follow up with two power play goals by Zuccarello and Zibanejad. In the third period, Zuccarello would get his second of the game giving the Rangers a four to one lead. Mike Hoffman would tally his third of the season, halfway through the third, but Kevin Hayes added an empty net goal which sealed the win.
Alex Georgiev registered his fifth career win and his first of the season making 36 saves. Mika Zibanejad got the first star of the night with a four-point night. An interesting note, the Rangers tied their season high for goals (five), but only shot the puck 21 times, their fewest shot total in a single game.
Tonight, the Rangers make their only appearance at the United Center this season, to take on original six foe, the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago won both meetings last season, outscoring the Rangers eleven to five. The Blackhawks enter the game 5-2-2 averaging 3.67 goals per game, and 3.67 goals against per game. Corey Crawford will get the nod for just the fourth time since late December due to concussion symptoms which kept him out for ten months. Crawford enters the game 2-1-0 with only allowing five goals.
The Rangers know the veterans the Blackhawks have who can cause many problems. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith who led Chicago to multiple Stanley Cups, will likely see significant ice time. But one up-and-coming name the Rangers must keep an eye on, is 20-year-old Alex DeBrincat. The former second round pick has seven goals and five assists in just nine games.
For the Rangers, they begin a four-game road trip out west where they will seek their first road win of the young season. Head coach David Quinn is not bothered to have a road trip this early in the season. “I think it’s good to get on the road, especially this early in the season,” Quinn said. “It gives our guys a chance to spend more time with each other.”
But to rookie Brett Howden, this type of road trip is new to him. A year ago, when Howden was in the WHL, a long road trip for him was getting on a bus and driving to the Pacific from Saskatchewan. Now it is flying to the Pacific from the Atlantic. “This trip will be pretty cool, going down to California and being able to play those teams,” said Howden. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Henrik Lundqvist will return to the net for New York. After not allowing three goals or more in his first five games to start the season, he has now allowed four goals in each of the past two games. In addition, the Blueshirts enter the game having scored a power play goal in each of their last four games (6 for 18). Mika Zibanejad is currently on a three-game goal streak, while Neal Pionk is on a three-game point streak.
In roster news, Matt Beleskey cleared waivers and will join the Hartford Wolf Pack. According to Quinn, the Rangers will skate in the same lineup in consecutive games for the first time this season.
Kreider – Zibanejad – Zuccarello
Chytil – Hayes – Fast
Vesey – Howden – Buchnevich
McLeod – Namestnikov – Spooner
Skjei – McQuaid
Staal – Pionk
Smith – Shattenkirk
The Blackhawks and Rangers will each see familiar faces on the opposing team tonight. Kevin Hayes was a first round pick in 2010 by Chicago but he elected to sign with the Rangers after he went unsigned by Chicago. On the bench, the Rangers will see former assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson assisting Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. With a win tonight, the Rangers would put together their first win streak of the season.
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