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 offto a fast start under a minute into the game. After a Kasperi Kapanen breakawaygoal, Jimmy Vesey scored late in the first period, giving the Blueshirts theirsecond lead of the game. After a scoreless second period, Adam McQuaid beatGarrett Sparks and Kevin Hayes added an empty net goal sealing a win in thefinal 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 thebirthday wishes,” said Georgiev. “I had an important game in front of me. I’mvery happy it ended the way it ended.”
After the game, Quinn was askedwhat he got Georgiev for his birthday.
“What did I get him forhis birthday? Nothing yet, but there’s going to be a big gift soon,” Quinnsaid.
“We were talking beforethe game about how it’s a new game,” said Zibanejad. “We’ve got to get outthere, especially at home against a good team, and try and get on top of themright away.”
Tonight, the Rangers will take on the Winnipeg Jets. Likethe Leafs, the Jets also have one of the top offenses in the NHL. In theirfirst meeting this season, the Rangers saw a three-goal third period leadevaporate 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 downthe central division leading Jets. The Jets offense is led by Blake Wheeler andMark Scheifele who each are pushing 70 points. However, former second overallpick Patrik Laine is not having the season he had hope. Laine has just 36points and is a minus 15 on the season.
“We’ve just got to befocused on Winnipeg,” Quinn said. We’ve just got to continue to build on theway we’ve been playing.” “I don’t think our last five games therecord has been indicative of the way we’ve played, I think we’ve played betterthan that.
Prior to the game, the Rangers acquired a 2020 seventh-roundpick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchanged for goalie Marek Mazanec. TheRangers are expected to start the same lineup from last game.
Smith – Shattenkirk – Pionk