Rangers, Predators find their footing ahead of matchup

Rangers, Predators find their footing ahead of matchup

Thanks to stellar goaltending, the New York Rangers survived two games in Canada despite a wide shot disparity.

While the Rangers hope to get another win with effective goaltending, they also hope to limit those shots on goal Thursday night when they visit the Nashville Predators.

After starting the season with losses to the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars, the Rangers turned in successful nights against the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. They earned a 3-1 win in Montreal on Saturday despite allowing 32 shots on goal, and two nights later they picked up a 2-1 win in Toronto with an even wider shot disparity.

Artemi Panarin scored the game-winning goal 3:48 into overtime to cap a game in which the Rangers were outshot 41-23, including 17-2 in the second period.

Igor Shesterkin stopped 40 shots after making 31 Saturday and will take a .949 save percentage into Thursday.

“I think we’re feeding (other teams) games a little bit too much,” New York’s Mika Zibanejad said Monday night. “When they have the momentum, we try to make plays to get out of it (rather) than playing a little bit simpler and just kind of working our way back into it and not forcing it as much.”

Zibanejad had a goal and an assist Monday after getting two assists Saturday and was reunited as Panarin’s linemate due to Ryan Strome being on the COVID-19 list for the second straight game.

It could be a combination the Rangers use again Thursday, though coach Gerard Gallant was uncertain. It depends if Strome is available to return to provide more depth for a team that will miss Kaapo Kakko for at least two more games due to an upper-body injury.

“We’ll see,” Gallant said. “We’ll have to look at our lineup again.”

Nashville has opened the season with three straight one-goal contests and is looking to end its four-game homestand with a second straight win. After losses to the Seattle Kraken and Carolina Hurricanes, the Predators pulled out a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

“I’m just happy for the guys,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We’ve played some good hockey here and haven’t got rewarded for it. Tonight, we got rewarded for it.”

Matt Duchene and Tanner Jeannot scored in a span of 3:59 early in the third period while Juuse Saros made 25 saves for Nashville’s first win since the trades of Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis and the retirement of goaltender Pekka Rinne.

“To get that first win, now we can just keep building,” Duchene said. “I think we’ve gotten better every game in a lot of areas, but there’s still something to get better with, and we’re going to keep working. But I think it’s a good start of the season.”

The Predators recorded 31 shots on goal Tuesday, marking their third straight game with at least 30.

The teams will meet for the first time since Saros made 39 saves in New York on Dec. 16, 2019, in Nashville’s 5-2 win. In the last meeting in Nashville, New York won 2-1 on Nov. 2, 2019, when Strome and Filip Chytil scored.


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