Friday, March 31 2023
Jan 27, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Madison Square Garden.

Jan 27, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Madison Square Garden. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

It would have felt a lot different in the Rangers locker room Friday night if they lost their final game before this season’s All-Star break.

But luckily for the Blue Shirts, they put together a rather convincing 4-1 win over a very good Vegas Golden Knights team thanks to timely scoring and the dominant performance from the Rangers second-string goalie, Jaroslav Halak.

“A lot of good, but Jaro had to make some unbelievable saves again for us tonight,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said after the game. “It was a good game, back-and-forth. Fortunately we got that 2-0 lead. It wasn’t a perfect game but it was a good solid game against a good team. It was a big win for our group.”

The 18-year backstop came to the Rangers from the Canucks in the offseason to give the team a veteran presence behind young phenom Igor Shesterkin. After a shaky start to the season where he went winless in six games, the 37-year-old has now won five in a row and the first time at home.

“Every time you join a new team you may try too much,” Halak explained. “My record wasn’t the best, but you don’t worry about those games and turn the page and keep moving forward. That’s what I wanted. To get the first game, first win and keep it rolling.”

“He was unbelievable,” Barclay Goodrow said of Halak’s performance. “It’s a good feeling when your second goalie can come in and play like that. And give a sense of calmness to your team.”

Vincent Trocheck echoed those sentiments saying, “He played awesome. There were some grade-A chances in the first and second that he kept us in the game. Having a backstop like that obviously gives you confidence to make some plays.”

Halak made 33 saves, including six-for-six in the power play and two-for-two when the other team was shorthanded. The Rangers would score two in the first and two more in the third period to put Vegas away.

New York goes into the break with a 27-14-8 record (62 points) and sitting comfortably as the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan Division. After their overtime loss to the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, going into their long break on a losing streak would have been a killer for the team’s morale.

“It would have sucked walking into the break, seven days off sitting on these two losses back-to-back,” Trocheck said. “It’s good to have one against a team like this walking into the break.”

“I’m glad I got the start, get the first win at home and now we can enjoy the break,” Halak added. “After the break, our schedule is going to be crazy for the next two and a half months so everyone needs to be ready.”

When the Rangers return from the break, they have to play four games in five days against the Flames, Canucks, Kraken and Hurricanes. All four are playoff teams or on the cusp if the season ended today.

And although this season’s team is behind what last year’s squad did at this time — they were 30-13-4 — coach Gallant sees the improvement and that better days are ahead.

“I’m happy with where we’re at. Since the last break, our record seems pretty good,” he said. “We’ve played well. We haven’t played perfect like we did last year at times, but we’re still finding ways to win hockey games. It’s coming, it’s a work in progress for us but I like our position and the way we’re playing.”

Source: Yahoo Sports


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