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The Rangers’ power play is nearing clutch status.
Earning a timely man-advantage roughly a minute and half after the Ducks took a 3-2 lead off Derek Grant’s breakaway goal in the third period, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Ryan Strome went to work. Despite a handful of shots that went wide early on, the Rangers top unit stuck with it and kept the Ducks hemmed in their zone.
A one-timer from Fox then went off Panarin’s skate and bounced off the boards right to Kreider, who backhanded it in at 13:40 to tie the game for a third time and ultimately force overtime, where the Rangers secured a 4-3 victory behind a goal from the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
The Rangers’ individual record for power-play goals in a single season currently belongs to Jaromir Jagr and his 24 man-advantage tallies during the 2005-06 season. Kreider is now at 20.
“I think you see the mentality in a situation like that,” said Kreider, who leads the NHL in power-play goals. “From Stromer and Mika and Foxy and Arty, where they’ve just raised their level so much. The best players in the world can do that and they certainly do that in those situations. They create so many chances in such a short amount of time. I wouldn’t want to be killing a penalty against those guys when we’re down a goal in a pressure situation.
“Every one of them, they’re gamers and they just find ways to get the puck to the net and to create in high-pressure situations.”
The Rangers’ 34.6 power-play percentage since Jan. 15 entering Tuesday’s game was the best in the NHL. Over that span, including the win over the Ducks, Panarin’s 17 power-play points are also the most in the league.
Panarin is currently tied for third in the NHL in power-play points with 30. Coming off his third career five-point game on Saturday in Dallas, Panarin has points in five-straight games and seven of his last eight.
“I think we’re confident,” said Fox, whose 27 power-play points is good for second on the Rangers. “Obviously, the talent on the power play. I think we have a good array of different things guys can do. You see what Kreids can do net front, Bread’s playmaking ability, Stromer’s smarts there and Mika’s ability to shoot the puck as well.“I think the chemistry is just really there. We feed off each other really well. Obviously, in situations where you’re down a goal, it kind of pushes us a little more to get one and help the group out. I think we’ve done a good job of doing that.”
The Rangers will play all but one — on April 19 against the Jets — of their remaining 22 games against teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers held a Women’s Empowerment Night on Tuesday in honor of March being Women’s History Month.