Nothing says New York Rangers hockey like a hat trick, composed of a postponement, a loss, and a win. However, the Rangers ended the new year with a win and started 2022 with a win, both against the same team. (Insert echos of past playoff games here).
After having a significant time off, thanks to two postponed games, it was natural to think the Rangers would be a little rusty…and they were. But, eventually, they were able to shake off the rust against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Rangers ended the new year third in the Metropolitan with 44 points. They are still in third place after the second meeting against Tampa, with 46 points.
New York Rangers vs. Detroit Red Wings
December 27, 2021
Madison Square Garden
NHL taking away all the fun, yet again.
New York Rangers @ Florida Panthers
December 29, 2021
The Rangers tried. They scored in the first period, putting them up 1-0. They were able to score again in the second to retake the lead. Panarin made a great defensive play and was able to get the puck to Zibanejad.
They still had the lead going into the third period. However, they could not overcome the Panthers’ three goals scored in the third period. Kreider scored with less than a minute left in the game, but they unfortunately could not get another one to send it into overtime.
It’s unfortunate the Rangers ran out of time; it would have been interesting to see if they could have done something in overtime against the Panthers.
New York Rangers @ Tampa Bay Lightning
December 31, 2021
Victor Hedman – No Goal
Kaapo Kakko – No Goal
Steven Stamkos – No Goal
Artemi Panarin – No Goal
Brayden Point – No Goal
Mika Zibanejad – Goal
This game was a reminder of all the playoff games the Rangers have had against the Lightning. However, it was another game in which New York allowed a team to come back in the third. Fans were hoping for a win to send the team off into the new year with a bang. The Rangers delivered a good game, albeit a nail-biter for sure.
The win ended a seven-game home winning streak. Goodrow finally got his second Stanley Cup ring and then proceeded to net two goals against his former team. Igor Shesterkin tied the team record held by Gilles Villemure of reaching 40 career wins in 67 games.
Zibanejad scored the only goal in the shootout, sealing the deal for the Rangers.
New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
January 2, 2021
Madison Square Garden
07:44-Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox & Chris Kreider
12:37-Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox & Chris Kreider
14:53-Ryan Strome & Barclay Goodrow
16:53-Mika Zibanejad & Chris Kreider
It was not too long before the game began that they announced Panarin would not be in the game. Instead, they sent him to the strange place called the COVID-19 Protocol list.
Oh, no! How will the Rangers survive?
Never fear, Zibanejad to the rescue. A hat trick will do nicely to ring in the new year.
Without Panarin in the lineup, it was clear the Rangers needed to make up for it, and Zibanejad came through stunningly. The Rangers made it look easy despite barely eking out a win in the last game and the Lightning having Andrei Vasilevskiy back in net.
What We Learned This Week
New year, new Zibanejad? Fans are hoping the hat trick against the Lightning is just the start of something special.
We learned Shesterkin is the goalie fans thought he would be. In the 2021 part of the 2021-22 season, his record is 19-14-4, with a save percentage of .932 and a goals against average of 2.20.
The Rangers are still doing better than expected and barring any sudden decline in play or implosion, the playoffs are still in the picture.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images