In their final meeting with Metropolitan Division rival Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers ended the season series as victors over Pittsburgh. The Rangers beat the Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night, and in so doing, won three out of the four matchups between the teams.
With just ten games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Rangers are gearing up to try and improve their seeding for the playoffs which makes this last stretch that much more important.
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins Game Recap
The Rangers came into Thursday night’s matchup against the Penguins knowing how important it would be to win that game. Just two points behind the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes, New York cannot afford to falter right now.
The Rangers took their home ice and played one of the best games they have all season. After a scoreless first period in which goalie Igor Shesterkin made some outstanding saves, the Rangers quickly scored to start the 2nd period.
The culprit was trade deadline pickup Frank Vatrano who has been absolutely electric for the Blueshirts since coming over. After that, star forward Artemi Panarin made it 2-0 Rangers on a filthy backhand goal assisted by defender Jacob Trouba. Panarin has been a mainstay for the Rangers’ offense and it’s brilliant play like that which New York needs from key weapons like him if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The Rangers were lock down yet again on the defensive side in the 3rd period and defender Braden Schneider made it 3-0 on an empty-net goal in the game’s final minute. An enormous credit for this win unsurprisingly goes to Shesterkin who shut Pittsburgh out; saving all 30 shots on goal by the Penguins.
The Rangers would be nowhere near the division lead if it weren’t for Shesterkin who has undisputedly been the best netminder in the NHL this season. Performances from him such as this one have been the rule rather than the exception which has New York in the Stanley Cup conversation right now.
The Rangers remain two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the Metropolitan Division lead as the ‘Canes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in a comeback victory on Thursday night.
Final Regular Season Games
The Rangers have a real shot at overtaking Carolina for the division lead. The teams will face each other twice more in these remaining ten games on April 12th as well as the 26th.
In between now and April 12th, the Rangers have a Saturday night matchup against the Ottawa Senators. That one is a must-win for the Rangers as they have a chance to go into the April 12th game trailing the Hurricanes by just two points and could tie them for the division lead with a win if they can keep the pace.
Nine of New York’s ten remaining regular season games are against fellow Eastern Conference opponents, so it makes it that much more important to finish strong as a playoff berth looms. Obviously those two games against the Hurricanes are the most important, but there will be little room for error down this final stretch for the Rangers.
Opponents like the Senators, Flyers, Red Wings and Islanders should not be difficult matchups for New York and they need to avoid playing down to their competition.
If the Rangers can go at least 7-2-1 in these final ten games, they’ll end the season as champions of the Metropolitan Division and earn themselves an even better position for the postseason.
That’ll happen if New York can keep up the mix of excellent defense, goaltending and clutch scoring that they’ve been showing off of late. Shesterkin’s success as well as consistent puck control are the most important components to a strong Rangers finish.
Join our Discord to leave a question or comment regarding this article. We have sports fans talking betting all day — every day! JOIN THE DISCORD NOW AND QUALIFY FOR PRIZES & BETTING SWAG!