Antti Raanta might not be pulling a “Dak Prescott” on Henrik Lundqvist anytime soon. But in the meantime, he has provided some excellent play for the New York Rangers, and it was at its most apparent during a matchup with his former team on the road.
Raanta made 26 saves in an overtime effort, and Nick Holden put in the game winning goal as the Rangers topped the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 at United Center, winning consecutive games for the first time since November 12-15.
The game was a showcase of backup goaltenders, arguably hockey’s most underrated
position, as for 60 minutes, neither Raanta nor his Chicago counterpart Scott Darling allowed anything to get by, making a combined 62 saves among them, Darling stopping 36 while Raanta bid farewell to 26 Chicago opportunities. Each team had their opportunities, as Patrick Kane and Ryan Hartman led the Blackhawks with four shots each, and Oscar Lindberg put up seven. However, the zeroes on the scoreboard stayed, and a 0-0 overtime period commenced.
Apparently tired of the zeroes, Holden ensured that little more time was need for another victory. Emerging from the bench, Holden entered the zone by accepting a pass from Derek Stepan, putting it past Darling to cap off the evening. It was Holden’s fourth goal of the season, and Ryan McDonagh earned his 15th assist, having gotten it to Stepan before he entered the zone.
With the win, Raanta earned his first shutout since October 19 of last season against San Jose. He also improved to 15-0-3 at United Center, with the Blackhawks being his frist team in the NHL.
The Rangers will complete their season set with the Blackhawks (17-8-4) on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490