After this, you can only imagine how the post-game locker room scene looked for the Vancouver Canucks.
This was probably one of the most highly anticipated games – if not the most – on the New York Rangers’ 2013-14 schedule. It was the first regular season game between the Rangers and Vancouver this year. It was also the first time John Tortorella would see the inside of Madison Square Garden since he became the coach of the Canucks in June. And at least for Ranger fans, the game did not disappoint – especially after the Rangers blew a third period lead against the Bruins on Friday.
Chris Krieder ended up with a hat trick, Rick Nash scored his third goal in three games, and backup Cam Talbot picked up his sixth straight win as the Rangers defeated former head coach John Tortorella and his Canucks by a score of 5-2 on Saturday.
Early in the second period, Vancouver starter Roberto Luongo was chased from the game, in favor of backup Eddie Lack, after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
Cam Talbot, in his first career start at Madison Square Garden, was solid throughout, stopping 35 shots as he upped his record to 6-1-0 as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. It was expected that, despite his start yesterday against Boston, Lundqvist would have started this game, especially with the matchup being against a team coached by Tortorella. But, once again, Talbot proved to be positionally locked in, calm, and poised as he has shown in every game he has played in this season for the Rangers. He has yet to allow more than two goals in any NHL appearance.
Head coach Alain Vigneault decided to change up the lines and, at least for this game, it seemed to pay off. Brad Richards would be moved back to the wing and would play on a line with captain Ryan Callahan and Derick Brassard. Derek Stepan would now center Krieder and Nash. Dominic Moore would center Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello. Brian Boyle would center Benoit Pouliot and Derek Dorsett, who would make his first appearance after missing two games due to a sore wrist. Meanwhile, Taylor Pyatt and John Moore were made healthy scratches, meaning Michael Del Zotto would play in this one.
The line that really made the difference in this game was the Krieder-Stepan-Nash line, which accounted for four of the five goals in the game. It would seem the extremely high skill level of Nash complements the aggressiveness and speed of Krieder.
Krieder’s assault on the net would begin at 12:37 of the first period. After receiving the pass from Nash, Krieder entered the slot and rifled it past starter Roberto Luongo for the 1-0 lead. For Krieder, it was his fourth of the season. Then, 4:17 later, Krieder would deflect a pass from Ryan McDonagh past Luongo to extend the Rangers’ lead. The goal would make it Krieder’s first multi-goal regular season game of his career and only his third multi-point game of his career.
With assists on the Krieder goals, Richards, McDonagh, and Nash all have points in three consecutive games. 17 seconds into the second period, Nash would deflect a puck past Luongo to give the Blueshirts a 3-0 advantage. Canucks head coach Tortorella, who earned 171 regular season wins with the Rangers between 2008-09 and last season, decided to pull Luongo from the net and replace him with backup Eddie Lack. (NOTE: Tortorella’s .583 win percentage is the second highest in Rangers history behind Emile Francis’ .602)
Later in the second, Dominic Moore would draw a holding penalty on Chris Tanev, giving the Rangers the power play and they would capitalize. Del Zotto, who has been scratched in five of the last eight games and each of the last two, would rifle one past Lack for his second of the season. It was Del Zotto’s first point since the Rangers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on November 10 – a span of six games. His last goal was the lone Ranger goal in a 2-1 defeat to the Anaheim Ducks back on November 4 – a span of nine games. It’s the first regular season power play goal for MDZ since March 30, 2012.
With 4:10 remaining, though, Talbot’s shutout bid would end as David Booth made some nifty moves past the Rangers defense and scored his third of the year.
But, Krieder wasn’t done. As the clock neared the middle of the third period, Krieder would deflect Anton Stralman’s slap shot past Lack and the fans would celebrate by showering the ice with hats. With his third goal of the game – and sixth of the year – Krieder now has 16 points on the season, leaving him only five points behind San Jose’s Tomas Hertl (remember him, Ranger fans?) for the league lead in points by a rookie.
Late in the third, the Rangers’ fifth ranked penalty kill would yield a power play goal. The Canucks’ Daniel Sedin would collect a rebound in front and score easily on Talbot for his 10th of the season.
Out of the next 12 games, only one will be a road game for the Rangers. On Monday night, the Blueshirts will host the Winnipeg Jets. On Thursday, the team will travel up to Buffalo to play the Sabres. Then, New York will have a nine-game homestand, starting with their third game this season against the New Jersey Devils.