The New York Rangers live to play another day thanks to the fearless play of Alexi Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kappo Kakko, A.K.A. the “Kids” Line.
With the New York Rangers down 2-1 late in the second period, head coach Garrard Gallant put out the line that has been the heartbeat in an otherwise disappointing playoff.
The Kid’s line grinded and battled in the corners, forechecking and refusing to get pushed off of the puck. It resulted in a magnificent pass from kakko to Lafreniere who buried the pass. The crowd went crazy, the game was tied thanks to the three former first-round picks who have found the chemistry the Blueshirts were missing.
“We believe in our group,” Lafreniere said. ” We were down 3-1 (in the series) but I think we weren’t playing that bad. Played a really good one tonight when we needed it the most, so it was a really good team effort.”
A. late 2-0 deficit turned into a 3-3 2nd intermission tie. The Ranger knew that has to win the third period in order to get to a game six in Pittsburgh. The “Kid’s” attitude to play hard against whomever the Penguins put out there at that time was infectious throughout the lineup.
In the third period, Filip Chytil scored his first NHL Playoff goal with the man advanatge.
“It was just some bounce there,” Chytil said. “I don’t even know how it gets to me but probably the whole season I didn’t score many goals (eight in 67 regular-season games), so not thinking too much with the chances, and now I just close my eyes and just shoot and score a goal finally. I was so happy to help the team.”
The Rangers took a 4-3 lead eventually winning the game 5-3. Most importantly they take some momentum with them for Friday’s must-win game.
The Kids Doing Their Job
In five games this postseason, Alexis Lafrenière (2G-2A), Filip Chytil (1G-1A), and Kaapo Kakko (1G-1A) have combined for eight points. Lafreniere scored his second goal of the playoffs, before adding an assist. Lafrenière became the fourth different player in Rangers history to score in consecutive playoff games at age 20 or younger. The others: Don Maloney (3 GP & 2 GP in 1979), Steven Rice (2 GP in 1991), and Mike Allison (2 GP in 1981). Lafrenière has two goals and two assists for four points in five games.
Chyti’sl goal was his fifth career power-play goal and sixth career game-winning tally.
Kakko collected his second career playoff point with an assist, giving him a goal and an assist in his past three games.
Lafreniere played 16:20 on Wednesday night thanks to the team going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Lafreniere double shifted in the fourth line alongside Ryan Reaves and Kevin Rooney.
Gallant stood stand fest on not changing his line combinations last night. For last night he was correct n that decision. The Kids finished their checks, drove to the net to cause confusion on the Penguin’s end of the ice, and at the end of it all found a way to give the Rangers another hockey game with a chance for a game seven at MSG on Sunday.