Chris Kreider scores two goals, Rangers declaw Florida Panthers 5-2

Feb 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Florida Panthers center Aleksi Heponiemi (20) celebrates his goal during the third period against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers, behind a 34 save performance by Igor Shesterkin, defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Tuesday night. Chris Kreider netted two goals along and a helper with the team heading into the NHL All-star break.

Despite another slow start to a game, the New York Rangers clawed back after falling behind 2-1 to end the Florida Panthers four-game winning streak Tuesday night at MSG winning the game 5-2.

The team’s big players continued to carry the club with Igor Shesterkin winning his 22nd game of the season. Chris Kreider had two goals (32 and 33 on the season) with Mika Zibanejad (18g), Alexis Lafreniere (10g), and Artemi Panarin (13g) all scoring in the contest.

Panarin had a three-point night (1G,2A) which was the sixth time this season he has had three or more points in a game.

Kreider Playing Best Hockey Of Career

Chris Kreider has been the best player on the ice for many games this season. His two goals last night were both scored on the power-play.  He is the NHL’s leading goal scorer with his 33 goals, career-high, and his 17 power-play lead’s the NHL in that category (Leon Draisaitl is second with 13 PPG’s).

“Having a power play that can capitalize on them taking penalties, and potentially taking the kind of penalties that they’re trying to send a message that they’re not going to be bullied, it backs them off and makes them think twice about doing those things,” Kreider said to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.

Igor Shesterkin continues his great play winning his 22nd game of the season.  His aggressive play in the goal directly resulted in the Rangers winning goal scored by Kreider to gibe the team a 3-2 lead at the time.

Shesterkin played the puck out of the air with his blocker to Panarin, who made a long stretch pass up the ice to Ryan Strome at the far blue line. Strome passed to Kreider cutting to the net for the goal. Kreider pointed back at Shesterkin after the goal to acknowledge his play.

Kreider praised his goaltender’s hand skill after the game saying,

“Igor is just an outlier in terms of playing the puck, having that element, I mean, I’ve never had that before. I think it’s easier on the defensemen. It certainly helps in a situation like that. He’s probably a better passer and has better hands than I do. It adds a ton of value to the team.”

Off Until Feb. 15

With the All-Star Break this weekend and then a schedule that was originally defined to accommodate the Winter Olympic Games, the Rangers don’t play again until Feb. 15.

Head coach Gerard Gallant is welcoming the downtime that he feels the team needs.

“Personally, I think we need it,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said of the break. “We played so many games on the road (26), played 47 games, second most in the league. I don’t mind it. The good part about the (All-Star) break is we’re coming back and we’ve got four great days to practice before we play our first game. We’ll practice on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th and we play on the 15th. Those are four good days.”

The win on Tuesday was Gallant’s 300th as a head coach in the NHL. He is the 51st head coach in NHL history to win 300 games and 11th active (Trotz, Ruff, Laviolette, Sutter, Tippett, Boudreau, McLellan, DeBoer, Cooper, Sullivan). Gallant tied Peter Laviolette for the 22nd fastest to earn 300 wins (588 games).

Notes

  • The Rangers go into the All-Star break with 30 wins, their most heading into an All-Star break since 2016-17 and the eighth time in history (excluding Olympic years and shortened seasons). New York has won four out of its last six and seven of its last 10 games.
  • The Rangers wrapped the three-game homestand with the win and have won seven out of their last eight games at home and have earned a point in 17 of their 21 home games this season (15-4-2). New York has earned a point in eight of its last nine home games (7-1-1).
  • The Blueshirts improved to 12-2-0 against Atlantic Division opponents.
  • The Rangers improved to 16-1-3 when leading after the second period.
  • Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring 35 seconds into the game, their fastest goal to start a game since March 2, 2021, against Buffalo (28 seconds).
  • Igor Shesterkin won for the ninth time in his last 10 starts and in his last 17 starts, he has allowed two or fewer goals in 12 of them. Shesterkin’s 22 wins rank sixth in the NHL, his save percentage (.937) ranks first among goalies with 20 or more games and his goals-against average is second (2.10) in the league.