After one of the biggest 3rd-period momentum swings propelled the Rangers to a 5-4 comeback win against the top-ranked Golden Knights on Halloween night Tuesday, the Blueshirts are hoping to carry that feeling into their game tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Mika Zibanejad went off in the third period with two primary assists and a goal of his own as his line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich sent a barrage of shots on the Golden Knights’ 4th-string backup.
The “KZB” line has been a force to reckon with in the past — dating back to even last year when the line first developed an impressive chemistry — and is now reunited again after Coach Alain Vigneault attempted to spread the scoring throughout the lineup for a significant percentage of the games in October.
Despite giving up four goals last game, Henrik Lundqvist also looked rejuvenated and will be a key player tonight to beat the high-powered Lightning offense lead by the likes of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov; the NHL leaders in scoring and goals respectively this season.
The Rangers have the tenth ranked powerplay in the league while the the Lightning are the ninth most penalized team in the league. Special teams will be a key in tonight’s contest.
Players to watch
Pavel Buchnevich has become a regular offensive force for the Rangers and his chemistry with Mika Zibanejad has made him a solid top-6 forward. The 22-year old Russia-native has been the most balanced forward on the team with five goals and five assists to put him only second to Zibanejad in points.
With six points in his last four games Buchnevich shows no signs of slowing down and his speed and creativity with the puck could burn the slower Tampa Bay defense.
Steven Stamkos is first in the league in points for a reason. He is coming off a three-point game against the Florida Panthers and is just shy of being a two points-per-game player with 24 points in 13 games.
His play indicates the injuries over the last two seasons does not represent what he is capable of as a player.
Projected Rangers Lines
Chris Kreider — Mika Zibanejad — Pavel Buchnevich
Rick Nash — Kevin Hayes — Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey — David Desharnais — J.T. Miller
Michael Grabner — Boo Nieves — Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh — Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei — Steven Kampfer
Marc Staal — Nick Holden