A little spark to the ignition and the New York Rangers came out flying against their rival, the New York Islanders last night at Madison Square Garden. Head coach, John Tortorella knows the games are numbered in this abbreviated season, and when things do not go as planned the best thing to do is change them. With the addition of rookies, J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider in the line up, the Rangers found just the right amount of spark to get this Blueshirt squad going.
The Ranger’s rookie, J.T. Miller, tallied his first NHL goal and first goal of the game at 1:29 in the first period. Miller picked off the puck at the Islander blue line, drove hard to the net and roofed it past Evgeni Nabokov.
The momentum continued, and the Rangers kept the pressure on, jumping on the loose pucks and finally at 14:04 in the first period Marian Gaborik put one home to make it 2-0 New York. First period came to a close, and the Ranger’s had a solid period under their belts. It was a period that every coach wants to see. The Blueshirts got on the attack early, continuously drove pucks to the net, won the battles along the boards, and built off the early momentum.
The second period would give the Rangers a quick wake-up call when Islander’s weapon, John Tavares, capitalized on a tired Ranger line, and ripped one past Henrik Lundqvist on a 3-on-2 at 11:13 in the second period. The Ranger rookie, J.T. Miller, retaliated to up the Ranger lead to 3-1, showing he has some mature capabilities as a young 19 year old.
“I couldn’t draw that up any better,” Miller told NHL.com after finishing his second wave of interviews with the media. “I was a lot more fired up for the second goal. The first one, I didn’t know what to do.” (NHL.COM)
Ryan McDonagh would silence the rival with the final open net goal at 17:52 in the third period.
The story tonight was one about the stellar performance of young Blueshirt, J.T. Miller. Coming off a solid debut with his other rookie teammate, Chris Kreider, in Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. Despite Tuesday’s loss, Kreider and Miller showed that a little young blood in the lineup could prove to be just what the doctor ordered for this Ranger team that has been struggling for wins. Miller is strong on the puck and has a competitive drive that proved to be key to the two goals he scored last night. The aggressiveness, drive, and competitive edge is just what the Rangers are known for, and lately this has been a little hard to come by, but with the new rookie additions hopefully the Blueshirts will continue to bring this intensity.
“What’s he, 19?” Tortorella said, referring to Miller’s age. “He has a lot of puck poise for such a young kid.” (NHL.com)
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Ranger (rookie or otherwise) to tally multiple goals in his MSG debut was Chris Kontos in a 6-2 win against Detroit on January 3, 1983. Miller is the youngest Ranger to tally multiple-goals in a single game since Alex Kovalev posted a hat trick on December 27, 1992, at 19 years old.
While the Rangers have struggled on the power play lately, they still have managed to win 4 of their last 6 games. It is important to note that the Rangers are undefeated when scoring the first goal this season, posting a record of 2-0-0 in those contests, compared to 2-5-0. The Blueshirts have posted a 2-0-0 mark when leading after the first and second periods.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves to improve to 4-5-0 overall, including a 4-2-0 mark at home this season. He has held opponents to two goals or less in four of his last six games, posting a record of 3-3-0 with a 2.02 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
The Blueshirts registered at least one point in 14 in their last 17 games against the Islanders, posting a record of 12-3-2 over the span, dating back to a 5-2 win on December 17, 2009, at Long Island.
It seems to feel like things are going to turn around for this Ranger squad. There is so much talent and the cobwebs are hopefully starting to shed. The effort the Blueshirts displayed last night was typical of the boys in blue, and with April approaching nearer and nearer, the players know there is no time to lose.
“It’s never too early to talk about the importance of a win. I think the biggest thing for us now is to put a few together. We can’t keep going back and forth, win one and lose one, especially with this shortened season. We have to build on this and get better as we go here.” (Ryan Callahan)
The Rangers next game is this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.