4th Line Rocks and Rangers Roll, Beating Arizona, 5-2

When the Rangers called up Boo Nieves Tuesday, coach Alain Vigneault said it would allow him to ‘roll’ four lines of forwards.

Oh, did that 4th line roll Thursday night against the Coyotes.

The line, consisting of Nieves, Pavel Buchnevich, and Michael Grabner, combined for four goals, as the Blueshirts beat Arizona, 5-2. Buchnevich and Grabner scored two goals apiece, and Nieves added three assists. Backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec notched his first win as a Ranger, making 27 saves.

Chris Kreider got New York on the board at the 8:01 mark of the 1st period, taking a no-look pass from Mats Zuccarello and beating Arizona goalie Adin Hill at 8:01. Then the 4th line started to roll. Buchnevich made it 2-0 at 15:57 of the 1st, with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle, off assists from Ryan McDonagh and Nieves.

In the 2nd, after former Ranger Anthony Duclair made it 2-1 at 5:13, Grabner answered 46 seconds later, off an assist by Nieves, to make it 3-1. And Buchnevich made it 4-1 at 13:56 with his 2nd goal of the game, again from Nieves.

Clayton Keller scored his 7th goal of the season with a power play goal at 3:52 of the 3rd the made it 4-2. But Grabner added an empty-netter with 36 seconds to play for the final 5-2 margin.

The game marked Rick Nash‘s 1,000th career NHL game. And also marked the return of Derek Stepan to The Garden; he received a long, rousing ovation following a video tribute in the 1st period.

The Rangers [now 3-6-2, 8 pts] have won 2 of their last 3 games, and play the Canadiens in Montreal Saturday night.