Through the first portion of the season, the New York Rangers, who opened their schedule with 11 of their first 14 games at the comfortable confines of Madison Square Garden, have ensured that MSG is anything but a battleground state, having gone 8-1-0 in Manhattan so far this season.
Prior to embarking on their first major road trip of the season, in which they’ll play five of their next six games away from home, the Rangers hope to close out their early Garden festivities with another win against the Vancouver Canucks (7:00, MSG). Another win would also give the Rangers (10-3-0) a six-game winning streak.
The Rangers have put themselves in the early lead for the Metropolitan Division, and have scored at least five goals in five consecutive games, including Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Kevin Hayes netted a goal for the fourth consecutive game, ending a week in which he was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week, alongside Nikita Kucherov and Corey Crawford. The Rangers took the game over in the second period, as Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Jesper Fast and Pavel Buchnevich, whose last goal was his first ever at MSG, tallied a quartet past Jets goaltenders Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson for the victory. The Rangers were held to no shots in the third, but Henrik Lundqvist kept the final period blank, part of a 24-save night.
Vancouver (4-9-1) began the year with four consecutive wins, but have since fallen into a funk, winless in their past nine, including the past eight in regulation, after their last victory on October 20. They’re currently in the midst of their New York City double feature, having fallen 4-2 to the New York Islanders last night in Brooklyn. Daniel Sedin and Markus Granlund scored goals for the Canucks before two unanswered third period goals did them in.
The Rangers and the Canucks will handle their yearly two game set in the span of a week, the rematch coming next week in British Columbia. Each team won on their home ice in last year’s set, the most recent being the Rangers 3-2 overtime victory at MSG. Zuccarello tied the game in the third period with the Rangers down 2-1, and JT Miller put in the winner in overtime. Ryan Miller made 46 saves in defeat, while Derek Stepan got the first Ranger goal.
The Rangers announced Annti Raanta (3-0-0, 2.34 GAA) will start in net for them tonight, while Vancouver is likely to counter with Jacob Markstrom (3-2-1, 2.11 GAA).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490