Rangers fans left T-Mobile Arena tonight with the same sinking feeling they would have after a bad night in the casinos. Even though the game started with rave tributes to Ryan Reaves and Gerard Gallant, Vegas quickly overwhelmed the Blueshirts, securing a decisive 5-1 victory with the Rangers delivering one of their worst defensive outings of the season. With Shesterkin added to the Covid protocol at the very last minute, Georgiev was given the green light in the net. Although not posting good numbers, the young Bulgarian was far from the reason why the team could not overcome the obstacles tonight.
At first, things weren’t that dark for the team. They were one post in the first intermission tied 1-1, but it was in the second period that their luck and play started to take a turn for the worse.
Although mostly bitter, the intervening period began on some sweet notes. First, Chris Kreider scored his team in the lead 21st goal of the season to tie. This allows him to score around fifty goals this season. Second, whatever your take on the infamous Potvin mockery normally heard at MSG, it was surreal to hear it in the second half in Vegas as Rangers fans prove they really are everywhere. However, it was soon after, where after several defensive failures, the Golden Knights managed to strike twice and lead 3-1 before the third period.
At the start of the final period, the trouble escalated and Vegas began to build on their lead. Any Rangers fan worth their salt would have put money on former Ranger Brett Howden scoring a goal tonight, and after the third period it’s a bet they would have won. In the final forty minutes of the game, the team gave up far too many odd men’s races as poor defensive decisions plagued the entire roster. Libor Hajek, in particular, was on the ice for the Vegas Golden Knights tied four goals. Most nights the Rangers win the special teams battle, but tonight it wasn’t in the cards. They would have finished each period shorthanded had the Golden Knights not converted their power play at the end of the first.
update with Hajek on the ice 5v5:
NYR over-attempted 3-25
8% from xG
– Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 7, 2022
Jonathan Marchessault (17) – Reilly Smith (16) & Nicolas Roy (12) – (18:35)
After Ryan Lindgren was sent into the box for tripping Chandler Stephenson, the Vegas Golden Knights secured the game’s first power play. It took them less than a minute to score as they circulated the puck through the Rangers’ zone, leading to a shot from the top of Marchessault’s left circle. Georgiev saw the shot the whole way through and was able to make the initial save and fend off Roy and Smith’s rebound chances. Marchessault followed through and managed to find the loose puck past Miller and Zibanejad and sent a backhand on sprawling Georgiev for the game’s first lead.
Chris Kreider (21) – Mika Zibanejad (20) & Kaapo Kakko (7) – (0:58)
Less than a minute into the second period, Kakko and Zibanejad pressured defenseman Brayden McNabb to return the puck to the blue line. Kakko moved the puck to Zibanejad who sent a backhand pass to Kreider on his right wing just before the Vegas blue line. Kreider carried the puck into the zone and while apparently looking for a pass, he released a net as he glanced at Lehner’s unsuspecting glove in the top corner.
Mark Stone (7) – Evgenii Dadonov (8) & Chandler Stephenson (25) – (8:14)
Hajek made a play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but his bank pass was easily intercepted by Stephenson who started to move up the ice. As they passed the Rangers blue line, Stephenson started a tic tac toe game by sliding the puck towards Stone who then moved it to Dadonov only for Stone to receive a pass in return as he was able to redirect the puck. puck in the net with its pad. . Georgiev was adamantly dismissing the goal, but after a quick review, the referees upheld the call on the ice and Vegas took a 2-1 lead.
Mattias Janmark (11) – Keegan Kolesar (11) & Ben Hutton (6) – (13:08)
Zac Jones pinched the ice and received a bad pass from the offensive blue line which was deflected by Janmark straight to Hutton. Janmark then walked up the ice and was struck in stride with the puck by Hutton. As he carried it down the right wing, Janmark made a lunge cut motion and burned Hajek just before covering the puck just below the crossbar above Georgiev. Janmark has now scored five goals in his last five games.
Brett Howden (4) – Nolan Patrick (1) & Dylan Coghlan – (13:08)
As the Golden Knights entered the Ranger zone, Patrick and Howden passed each other. Patrick allowed a pass for Howden, who then grabbed the puck and cut towards the net. Skating alongside Hajek, he sent a wrist shot right in front of Georgiev. He’s the one Georgiev might want to come back to as the shot beat him from the lower lower side. Brett Howden has now scored more goals in two games against the Rangers than he had all last season while playing for them.
Jonathan Marchessault (18) – Reilly Smith (17) – (12:59)
Hajek pinched in the attacking zone as there was a puck battle in the corner. Smith winning the puck battle noticed that Marchessault was hovering well behind Hajek. Smith managed to make a lob pass which created another odd run as Karlsson and Marchessault both left for runs. Entering the Rangers zone, Zac Jones removed the pass option which forced Marchessault to shoot. He beat Georgiev’s glove cleanly with a perfectly placed wrist shot in the top corner.
The Rangers will want to forget about this one as they take on the Anaheim Ducks this next Saturday. You can certainly expect Gallant to make a few roster changes as the team struggled mightily from the back. Hajek should definitely be the one to pull the end of the stick and show up for any unnamed substitute Jarred Tinordi, as it is high time that Nils Lundkvist got back on the roster, regardless of which side he is expected to play. The team may also need to adjust their front lines, with the hopes of Artemiy Panarin returning and Dryden Hunt leaving the ice and heading straight to the locker room after facing Nolan Patrick for the puck at the end of the third. period.