The last time Rangers went into a third half with a one-goal lead in Toronto on Wednesday, they gave up the winning goal with just under four minutes left in regulation and ended up losing in overtime.
On Friday, after leading by a goal early in the third period at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers extended their lead and eventually defeated the Golden Knights 4-1 to a 27-14-8 record and feel good to book their eight-day hiatus for the All-Star hiatus.
It was a much-needed reaction after the disheartening finish against the Maple Leafs.
“I think sometimes you go ahead against a good team, you start to back heel a little bit and try to play defense all the time and tonight I thought we did better, just to hold on to our game and not sit back,” said Vincent Trocheck, who was involved in Rangers’ two goals in the first half, one of which he scored and the other assist from Chris Kreider.
Rangers will go into their second break on a high note after a commanding third period in which they scored two goals and overtook the Golden Knights 13-9. Filip Chytil, who has 12 points in Rangers’ last 11 games, gave his team a comfortable two-goal lead with 5:38 in the last frame after holding on to the puck and setting it off from Vegas defender Shea Theodore.
Vincent Trocheck (16) of the New York Rangers celebrates with teammates after scoring in the first half against the Vegas Golden Knights on January 27, 2023 at Madison Square Garden. NHLI via Getty Images
New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider (20) reacts after scoring a goal past Adin Hill (33) of the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period Robert Sabo/For the New York Post
To cap the goal, Jimmy Vesey netted a goal without a net to send the Golden Knights to their third straight loss and their sixth in their last seven games.
Not only did Rangers bounce back as a team, but Trocheck’s line with Kreider and Barclay Goodrow had its own redeeming moment that spanned the entire first period. After a turbulent night on Wednesday, when the trio were on the ice for the decisive goal, among other errors, this time they scored twice in the first period and combined 12 shots throughout the game.
“I really liked their game tonight,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “They played well, Troch is really good and strong defensively in our zone, so I liked how that line played tonight.”
The past two months have been dominated by goalie Jaroslav Halak’s rebound, who won the battle of the reserve goalkeepers on Friday with 33 saves in one of his best performances of the season. The Slovakian made key saves at key moments to extend his winning streak to five straight games, which has helped Rangers turn their season around and remain competitive in the Metropolitan Division.
Rangers goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a save against Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar (55) in the second half January 27 at Madison Square Garden.
After Igor Shesterkin left for the All-Star Game alongside Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox, the Rangers coaching staff chose Halak at the net. If they had gone with Shesterkin for a third straight game, Halak would have gone over three weeks without seeing any game action.
“I didn’t think about it,” Halak said when asked about the importance of getting between the pipes before being released. “If I have the beginning, I get the beginning if I [didn’t] Begin, so be it. I would come after the break, do a good workout and see where it goes after that. But I’m glad I got the start, I got my first home win and now we can enjoy the break.
“After the break everyone has to come and our schedule is going crazy over the next two and a half months so everyone has to be ready to play.”