Antti Raanta took part in NHL history during the 2014-15 season…though the ultimate prize leaves no record him doing so.
Raanta, a member of the 2014-15 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, was left off the Stanley Cup due to not dressing in any playoff games and for being in the AHL after the trade deadline. He’ll have a chance for a small modicum of revenge tonight, as he starts both of the Rangers‘ back-to-back set, concluding tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 PM, MSG+/NHL Network).
The Rangers (18-9-1) are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since a three game winning streak from November 12-15. They got back in the win column with a win over the Winnipeg Jets last night, emerging with a 2-1 victory on a night where special teams shined. Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes both scored on the power play, the latter’s goal coming in the penultimate minute of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie. The Rangers‘ penalty kill unite also rose to the occasion, killing off two Winnipeg chances in the final frame.
The Blackhawks (17-8-3) are in the midst of a four game homestand, most recently playing on Tuesday, a 4-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Scott Darling, who has taken over regular goaltending duties with Corey Crawford sidelined on injured reserve after undergoing an emergency appendectomy last week, made 22 saves in the shutout effort, while ex-Ranger Artem Anisimov opened the scoring with his 11th goal of the season.
This will be the first of two meetings between the Rangers and Blackhawks this season, the second of which will be played on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The teams split the season set last year, with each winning on the other’s home ice. The Rangers’ victory came on opening night of last season, a 3-2 win at United Center. On the night where the Blackhawks raised their 2014-15 championship banner, their sixth overall and third over the past seven seasons, the Rangers scored a trio of first period goals, including Oscar Lindberg, scoring his first NHL goal. Kevin Klein and Derek Stepan added the other goals, while Artemi Panarin had a goal for Chicago. Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves.
First brought in as an undrafted free agent by the Blackhawks in 2013, this will be Raanta’s first career start against his former team. As for the Rangers as a whole, they will look to improve their impressive record in the second half of back-to-backs, currently standing at 3-0-0.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490