Dan Girardi took a lot of flak last season, with many blaming the expensive defenseman for many avoidable losses last season.
If only for one night, Girardi shut them up, providing a heroic return from a groin issue that kept him out for the past three contests.
Girardi put in Sunday night’s game winning goal past Louis Domingue off a nice set up from Brady Skjei, the winning tally in the Rangers‘ 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. It was the Rangers‘ second win in a row, starting their first winning streak of the season.
The win did come at the price of sloppy hockey, understandable as the Rangers were in the second half of a back-to-back set against an Arizona team that had last played on Friday night. It was probably the most unkempt the Rangers have looked in the early goings of the 2016-17 season. It was most apparent in the first minute of play, when Radim Vrbata put one in just 33 seconds into the game. Arizona also outshot the Rangers 29-26, including 13-7 in the second period.
However, the Rangers overcame their weariness, well enough to earn two points as well as certain players to earn their first points in blue for the young season.
Before the first period horn sounded, Josh Jooris went down in the New York scoring sheet for the first time, putting one in with assistance from Michael Grabner and Jesper Fast to knot things up. In the next frame, JT Miller put in a power play goal, giving the Rangers their first lead of the evening with 14:15 remaining in the frame. However, Vrbata haunted the Rangers again, scoring his second of the night just over ten minutes later.
It was soon revealed that Vrbata’s knotting goal only served as the setup to Girardi’s heroics.
With Skjei bringing the puck in by himself during a Rangers’ line change, he wrapped around the net to get it to an open Girardi, just leaving the bench. From 40 feet out, Giradi fired one past Domingue, giving the Rangers their last lead of the night. Holding off various Arizona rally attempts, Girardi made a play in his own end as well, stopping a pass to a wide-open Laurent Dauphin that could’ve retied the game. Henrik Lundqvist and his 27 saves took care of the rest, and the Rangers (4-2-0) established their first winning streak of the season. Arizona (1-4-0) has now dropped the first frames of their New York area trifecta, which began with a loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn on Friday. Tbey’ll complete this portion of a six game road trip on Tuesday in New Jersey.
The Rangers will seek to carry on their winning streak on Wednesday night, when they stay at Madison Square Garden to take on the Boston Bruins (8:00 PM, NBCSN).