The New York Rangers came up with the perfect response on Saturday.
After dropping their 2020-21 NHL Season Opener to the New York Islanders in an ugly 4-0 loss on Thursday, it was roles reversed for the New York Rangers as they shutout their rivals in a dominant 5-0 win.
It was the perfect way to respond after putting up a stinker in the season opener, and it was a dominant performance from start to finish for the Blueshirts who took control early and refused to take their foot off the gas at any point in a win they needed.
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Pavel Buchnevich got the Rangers on the board early in the first period and Artemi Panarin‘s first goal of the season made it a two-goal game heading into the second period. Buchnevich, who appears to be on the cusp of a breakout season, lit the lamp for the second time before Kaapo Kakko recorded his first goal of the year and Panarin then put a pretty bow on the game with a power play goal late in the third.
Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 23 shots he faced to earn the First Star of the Game, while it wasn’t a happy debut for Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin who was called into action late after Semyon Varlamov took a puck to the throat during warmups.
Main Takeaways from the New York Rangers’ dominant win
It was just a perfect performance from the Rangers who got timely goals, outstanding goaltending from Georgiev, and unlike in the first meeting between these two teams, they battled for every puck, every inch of the ice and they didn’t allow the Islanders to get any kind of foothold on the game.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Three Takeaways from the New York Rangers’ dominant 5-0 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night…
3. Brendan Smith still has a role to play
Veteran defenseman Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch for the New York Rangers’ Opening Game of the 2020-21 NHL Season, but he was back in the lineup on Saturday to replace Tony DeAngelo. And, while Smith may split opinion among Blueshirts fans, it was the absolute right decision by Head Coach David Quinn.
Smith was just outstanding in Game 2 against the Islanders, providing the kind of toughness that this team as it is currently constituted just lacks. He was physical, he made key plays in his own zone and he laid the body on at all times.
He was a +3 in 15:33 of total ice time, while helping rookie K’Andre Miller to have an outstanding bounce-back game after the young defenseman endured a rough NHL debut. The two meshed incredibly well together and Smith’s willingness to stay in his own zone and mop up allowed Miller to jump up into the play.
Smith is also one hell of a penalty magnet having drawn two penalties in this game, he drew 19 last season, and the 31-year-old also showed off his playmaking ability, providing this sublime pass to set Artemi Panarin free on the breakaway with the superstar forward doing the rest. It was just a faultless performance from Brendan Smith who continues to prove that he has a role to play for this New York Rangers team, even if he isn’t the most flashiest of players. He does a job and that’s all that counts.