After suffering a disappointing fifth straight lost to the Arizona Coyotes in overtime, the Rangers will have a tough test against the NHL’s top team (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
The Blueshirts fell to the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in overtime for their fifth straight defeat on Tuesday night. Both goals were scored by Tony DeAngelo for the Rangers. Arizona was able to continue their defensive streak of allowing a max of two goals by the end of regulation. Alex Georgiev made 32 saves in defeat; including 20 saves in the first period.
“Georgy played great,” said head coach David Quinn. “Our PK tonight allowed us to get a point.”
The Blueshirts and Coyotes each had over a minute of 5-3 PP time and neither team was able to connect. The Rangers were able to hold Arizona to just one shot over 90 seconds with just three skaters on the ice. However, on the current five game losing streak, New York has allowed a power-play goal in each game and are currently being outscored 20-9.
“We know we’re a lot better than this,” Quinn said. “Our guys are fragile right now.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Rangers as the Buffalo Sabres are surging as they head into Madison Square Garden. Leading the way for Buffalo is Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin; both of which are former top two overall picks in their respective drafts (Eichel was selected 2nd in 2015 and Dahlin was selected 1st in 2018). Eichel already has 14 points in the young season and Dahlin has 10 points on the back end. They’ll both get a chance to add to their point total against the 28th ranked defense. Another player who will look to get on the scoresheet is former Ranger Jimmy Vesey who was traded to Buffalo for a third-round pick in 2021. Quinn will hope his defense can keep his former player Vesey and his former college superstar Eichel off the board.
This game has the potential to be won in special teams for the Blueshirts. If the Rangers can carry momentum from that huge 5-3 kill against the Coyotes and shut down the 4th ranked power-play, they will tremendously increase their odds in winning. However, the Rangers must also make the most of each power-play. Buffalo allows the sixth fewest goals against but they only have the 20th ranked penalty kill. Teams are finding success against Buffalo with the man-advantage but are having more trouble at even strength. Special teams may truly be an integral part in this contest.
Quinn has elected to shake up the lines in hopes of getting more out of his team offensively. For the first time, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin will be on separate lines to start the game. Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko will flank Zibanejad on the first line, while Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich will join Panarin on the second line.
“It’s our responsibility to play hard every night,” Quinn said. “That message was delivered today, not only from our coaches, but from our leadership group.”