After a thrilling conclusion to a five-game homestand, the Blueshirts are beginning a four-game road trip, starting in Winnipeg (8:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
The homestand wasn’t going to plan entering Sunday Night. The Rangers lost three out of four games and were coming up against one of the league’s best. The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the game with one of the leagues top offenses and they had recently acquired Jake Muzzin in a trade.
Mika Zibanejad got the Rangers off to a fast start under a minute into the game. After a Kasperi Kapanen breakaway goal, Jimmy Vesey scored late in the first period, giving the Blueshirts their second lead of the game. After a scoreless second period, Adam McQuaid beat Garrett Sparks and Kevin Hayes added an empty net goal sealing a win in the final game of the homestand.
But the story of the game was head coach David Quinn electing to start Alexandar Georgiev on his birthday. Georgiev had a career game, stopping 55 Maple Leaf shots.
“That was a special birthday because I tried not to concentrate on the birthday wishes,” said Georgiev. “I had an important game in front of me. I’m very happy it ended the way it ended.”
After the game, Quinn was asked what he got Georgiev for his birthday.
“What did I get him for his birthday? Nothing yet, but there’s going to be a big gift soon,” Quinn said.
“We were talking before the game about how it’s a new game,” said Zibanejad. “We’ve got to get out there, especially at home against a good team, and try and get on top of them right away.”
Tonight, the Rangers will take on the Winnipeg Jets. Like the Leafs, the Jets also have one of the top offenses in the NHL. In their first meeting this season, the Rangers saw a three-goal third period lead evaporate as they fell to Winnipeg in a shootout.
“That was a game that we had in our hands and we let it slip because we sat back in the third period,” said Kevin Shattenkirk. “They have way too much skill, way too many guys that can hurt you when you don’t pressure them and you give them time and space.”
Henrik Lundqvist will get the responsibility of slowing down the central division leading Jets. The Jets offense is led by Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele who each are pushing 70 points. However, former second overall pick Patrik Laine is not having the season he had hope. Laine has just 36 points and is a minus 15 on the season.
“We’ve just got to be focused on Winnipeg,” Quinn said. We’ve just got to continue to build on the way we’ve been playing.” “I don’t think our last five games the record has been indicative of the way we’ve played, I think we’ve played better than that.
Prior to the game, the Rangers acquired a 2020 seventh-round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchanged for goalie Marek Mazanec. The Rangers are expected to start the same lineup from last game.
Smith – Shattenkirk – Pionk