Zuccarello Hat Trick Sparks Rangers Over Leafs

After several games apart, coach Alain Vigneault reunited his top offensive line of Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, and Derick Brassard Friday night, and the move paid off big time. Zuccarello scored his first NHL hat trick, Nash and Brassard each had three assists, and the Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 3-1 at The Garden.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 of 25 shots for his 5th win of the season.

Zuccarello got the scoring started midway through the 1st period. Nash, behind the net, passed the puck to Brassard in front; he passed it to a wide-open Zuccarello, who scored underneath goalie Jonathan Bernier‘s glove at 9:46 for a 1-0 Rangers lead.

Neither team scored in the 2nd period. Early in the 3rd, Brassard and Zuccarello broke in on Bernier. Brassard made a perfect backhanded pass to Zuccarello who tapped it in at 5:34 to make it 2-0.

Toronto cut the lead to 2-1 with under two minutes to play. The Leafs pulled Bernier for an extra attacker. Dion Phaneuf‘s shot was deflected in by Joffrey Lupul at 18:09, and the Leafs had life.

But Zuccarello completed his hat trick at 19:11 for the final 3-1 margin. Zuccarello now has a team-high seven goals on the season.

The Rangers [now 7-2-2, 16 pts] are back in action Tuesday night at The Garden against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.



Raanta, Girardi Spark Rangers in 4-1 Win Over Calgary

Coming off an emotional, shootout loss at Philadelphia Saturday, the Rangers rebounded Sunday night  with a convincing 4-1 win over Calgary, at The Garden. Backup goalie Antti Raanta made 22 saves for his 2nd win of the season and Dan Girardi‘s 1st goal of the season, late in the 2nd period, was the game-winner.

Calgary opened the scoring at 3:06 of the 1st period. Marc Staal couldn’t clear a loose puck out of the Rangers’ zone and the Flames capitalized. Johnny Gaudreau made a backhand pass to Jiri Hudler, who put the puck past Raanta for a 1-0 Calgary lead, on the Flames’ first shot-on-goal of the game.

The Rangers tied the score midway through the 2nd period when Oscar Lindberg scored his team-leading 5th goal of the season at 12:03. Darting toward the crease, he took a behind-the-back pass from Kevin Hayes and beat Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller.

Lindberg’s goal seemed to energize the Blueshirts. Girardi gave the Blueshirts the lead for good at 16:57, off assists from Emerson Etem and Jarret Stoll, to make it 2-1.

Kevin Klein made it 3-1 at 8:38 of the 3rd period when his slapshot deflected off Deryk Engelland and past Hiller into the goal. And Derick Brassard added his third goal of the season less than two minutes later, at 10:26, to make it 4-1 Rangers.

Raanta has now allowed only one goal in two games.

It wasn’t all positive; the power play was 0-for-2 and did not get a shot off during either power play opportunity. The power play is now 4-for-25 on the season.

The Rangers [now 6-2-2, 14 pts] have four days off, until they host Toronto Friday night at The Garden.

Raanta To Start Tonight vs Flames

Antti Raanta will get his second start of the season tonight when the Rangers [5-2-2] host the Calgary Flames [2-5-0] at The Garden. Raanta got his only other start of the season on October on October 19th when he and the Blueshirts shut out San Jose 4-0.

Henrik Lundqvist made a season-high 46 saves in Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout loss at Philadelphia. He will likely be back in net Friday when the Rangers host Toronto.

In other news, Alain Vigneault has said that Viktor Stalberg will not play tonight; Stalberg was hit by Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas in the second period of last night’s game and did not return. Emerson Etem is expected to dress in Stalberg’s place. The team has not released an update on Stalberg’s health.


Flyers Edge Rangers in Shootout

Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason stopped Dominic Moore‘s shot in the final round of a shootout, and the Flyers topped the Rangers 3-2 Saturday night in Philadelphia. Mason finished with 37 saves.

Henrik Lundqvist made a season-high 46 saves in the loss, including 18 in the 3rd period.

Mark Streit gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead midway through the 1st period, taking a pass from Wayne Simmonds just inside the blue line and firing the puck past Lundqvist at 11:15.

J.T. Miller tied the game for the Rangers at 13:30, deflecting Keith Yandle‘s shot past Mason.

In the 2nd period, the Flyers took a 2-1 lead just 2:07 into the period. Marc Staal had trouble clearing the puck out of the Rangers zone. Scott Laughton picked up the loose puck and rifled it past Lundqvist for his first goal of the season.

But the Rangers re-tied the game at 4:48, when Derick Brassard scored a power play goal.

The Blueshirts thought they had taken a 3-2 lead at 11:45 of the period, when Jarret Stoll deflected a loose puck in off his body, but the referees waved the goal off because of goaltender interference.The Rangers challenged the call and lost their challenge.

Neither team scored in in the 3rd period, or in the five-minute 3-on-3 overtime.

In the shootout, Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia, while Derek Stepan was the only Ranger to score.

The Rangers [now 5-2-2, 12 pts] are right back in action Sunday night, as they host the Calgary Flames at 7pm.

Rangers, Lundqvist Stop Arizona, 4-1

The Rangers started slowly Thursday night, but finished with a flourish, scoring three 3rd period goals to beat Arizona 4-1 at The Garden. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves to register his 4th win of the season.

Early on, the Blueshirts showed none of the energy or urgency they displayed in Monday night’s win over San Jose. They generated only six shots on goal in the 1st period and found themselves trailing 1-0 at the end of twenty minutes. Klas Dahlbach got the only goal, at 15:34, beating Lundqvist to the goalie’s right, over his blocker.

The Rangers picked it up a notch in the 2nd period. At 10:06, Chris Kreider evened the score by streaking to the net, taking a perfect pass from Mats Zuccarello, and putting the puck past Mike Smith for his 1st goal of the season and tying the game 1-1.

Lundqvist made two great saves in the final few minutes of the period, one on Jordan Martinook, and another on a Boyd Gordon shot with just over a minute to play, and the teams remained tied 1-all after two periods.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead just 2:35 into the 3rd period when Smith failed to successfully clear the puck out from behind the Coyotes’ net. J.T. Miller scooped up the loose puck and passed it to Hayes, who scored his 2nd goal of the season.

Keith Yandle scored a power play goal at 6:24, with a slapshot from just inside the blue line, to make it 3-1. It had to be especially sweet for Yandle, who was acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline last spring, to score a goal against his former team.

Lundqvist made a dazzling save late in the 3rd period, diving across the crease to stop Anthony Duclair‘s shot with 4:53 to play, one of 16 saves Lundqvist made in the period. Duclair was the biggest name the Rangers traded away last spring in the Yandle deal.

Rick Nash was awarded an empty net goal with 43 seconds to play, but never put the puck in the net. The Coyotes pulled Smith late in the game for an extra attacker, and Nash, on a breakaway toward the empty net, was hooked by Mikkel Boedker. The officials awarded him a goal, his first of 2015-16. Nash scored 42 goals last season.

The Rangers [now 5-2-1, 11 pts] play the Flyers Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Rangers Waive Tanner Glass

It was a numbers game, really. And a salary cap crunch, too.

With 14 forwards competing for 12 roster spots, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton and coach Alain Vigneault waived Tanner Glass Tuesday. Glass, who had two years remaining on a three-year contract, had skated in only two of the team’s first seven games. He was due to make $1.45 million this season. If no other team claims Glass and his remaining contract, the Blueshirts will assign him to their AHL team in Hartford, shaving $950,000 off their salary cap, giving Gorton a little flexibility moving forward.

Glass played 66 games in 2014-15, scoring 1 goal and 5 assists. He played in all 19 playoff games, tallying one assist.

Emerson Etem, acquired in the off-season from Anaheim in the Carl Hagelin trade, seemed to have passed Glass on Vigneault’s depth chart. And when Jesper Fast scored his first goal of the season Monday night against San Jose, Glass’ fate was sealed.

The Blueshirts [4-2-1, 9 pts] host former Ranger Anthony Duclair and the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night at The Garden. Duclair, traded in February as part of the Keith Yandle trade deadline deal, has 5 goals and 2 assists in Arizona’s first six games.


Raanta, Rangers Shut Out Sharks 4-0

Antti Raanta made his first start of the season Monday night at The Garden and made the most of it, making 22 saves as the Rangers shut out the San Jose Sharks 4-0.  Marc Staal, Jesper Fast, and Viktor Stalberg each got their first goal of the season in the win.

The Blueshirts, despite having played Sunday, showed more energy and urgency than in recent games.

Staal got the Rangers on the board midway through the first period on a slap shot that flipped end-over-end past San Jose goalie Martin Jones at 10:36.

In the second period, the Rangers’ power play got the next goal. The team had been 1-for-16 on the power play for the season, but at 9:28 Mats Zuccarello notched his 4th goal of the season to make it 2-0. It looked as if Rick Nash had deflected it past Jones, but the goal was awarded to Zuccarello.

In the third, Jesper Fast scored, off a terrific long pass from Chris Kreider, to make it 3-0 at 3:47. Later in the period, Nash and Kreider each hit the post; both players are still searching for their first goal of the season.

And, at 16:44, Stalberg closed out the scoring with his first of the season.

The defense blocked a season-high 21 blocked shots.

The Rangers [now 4-2-1, 9 pts] host Arizona Thursday night.

Raanta To Start Tonight vs Sharks

Antti Raanta will start in goal tonight when the Rangers host the San Jose Sharks at The Garden. Henrik Lundqvist started the team’s first six games, including Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Devils, going 3-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

The Blueshirts have 17 back-to-backs on the 2015-16 schedule, so Raanta is expected to play quite a bit as coach Alain Vigneault tries to give Lundqvist adequate rest. Lundqvist started both games of the season’s first back-to-back; October 9th [a road win at Columbus] and 10th [a home win vs Columbus].

The team’s next back-to-back is Saturday the 24th at Philadelphia and Sunday the 25th vs Calgary.


Rangers Fall to Devils in OT, 2-1

Former Ranger Lee Stempniak scored 3:07 into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 win over the Rangers Sunday afternoon at The Garden, New Jersey’s first win of the 2015-16 season. The victory was Devils coach John Hynes‘ first NHL coaching win.

The Rangers fell to 3-2-1 for the season.

The Blueshirts looked good early; Derek Stepan got the Rangers on the board 3:12 into the first period with a backhand goal past Cory Schneider, off a beautiful pass from Oscar Lindberg, to make it 1-0.

The Devils evened things up in the second when Adam Henrique scored just 1:52 into the period. He got his own rebound and slid the puck past Henrik LundqvistKevin Hayes slid the puck through the crease about six minutes into the period but did not score, and had another great chance a few minutes later.

Nether team score in the third, despite numerous chances.  Schneider and Lundqvist were both at the top of their form in the game. Schneider finished with 26 saves, Lundqvist with 22.

The tie at the end of regulation meant the Rangers’ first regular-season experience with the league’s new 3-on-3 overtime. Rick Nash deflected the puck into the crease past Schneider about 20 seconds into the OT, but, as the puck slid tantalizingly close to a goal, Ryan McDonagh could not put it in the back of the net. Lundqvist stopped Kyle Palmieri‘s point blank shot a few moments later.

Stepan clanged one off the left post with 2:02 remaining in the extra period, and Stempniak followed nine seconds later, finishing off a 2-on-1 off a pass from Henrique.

The Rangers are back in action Monday night at The Garden when they host San Jose.

Shut Out and Shut Down: Price, Canadiens Blank Rangers 3-0

Carey Price stopped all 25 shots he faced and Tomas Fleischmann added a goal and an assist as Montreal blanked the Rangers 3-0 Thursday night at the Bell Centre, in the Canadiens’ home opener . With the victory, Montreal set a franchise record by winning their fifth straight game to start a season. After starting 3-0-0, New York has now lost two straight.

It was Price’s 35th career shutout, and 7th career regular-season shutout of the Rangers.

After a scoreless first period, Fleischmann opened the scoring with a goal at 8:46 of the second, to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.

In the third period, Dale Weise made it 2-0 at 17:55. Tomas Plekanec added an empty net goal at 19:23 for the final 3-0 margin. David Desharnais had two assists on the night.

After scoring 12 goals in their first three games, the Blueshirts have now gone 113 minutes and 15 seconds without a goal, since Mats Zuccarello‘s goal early in Tuesday’s home loss to Winnipeg.

Henrik Lundqvist, starting his 5th straight game, made several sparkling saves, and finished with 29 saves.

The power play continued to struggle, going 0-for-5 for the second straight game.

The Rangers are back in action Sunday afternoon at The Garden against the Devils.