Kid Line propels Rangers past Panthers
Share this @internewscast.com
SUNRISE, Fla. — Much has been made of the Rangers’ top six in recent weeks, but it will be the Kid Line that sets the club a part down the line.
Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko showed what they’re capable of Saturday night in the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Panthers at FLA Live Arena.
Working together to pull the Rangers out of the 2-0 hole they fell into during the first period, each of the youngsters scored a goal over the final two periods to secure their team’s sixth win in the last eight games. It was just the second time all three have scored in the same game, with the last one coming on Dec. 7 against the Golden Knights.
The Rangers essentially showed up in the second period after a lackluster first 20 minutes. Once the Kid Line got going, so did the rest of the Rangers.
Head coach Gerard Gallant seemingly recognized early on in the second that the trio of youngsters were feeling it, and he awarded them the necessary ice time to capitalize on their play.
First, defenseman Ben Harpur and Chytil helped keep the puck in, which allowed the Czech center to pull off a give-and-go with Lafreniere. Chytil put a shot on goal and Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky couldn’t get his glove over the puck before Kakko swooped in and put it away to cut the Rangers’ deficit to 2-1 at 8:50 of the second.
Then, Lafreniere took a cross-ice feed from Jacob Trouba, flashed his first-overall-pick hands and sent a backhanded shot behind Bobrovsky to knot the score with 1:45 left in the second period.
After Patrick Kane scored a fluky goal just over a minute into the third period to give the Rangers their first lead of the night, Chytil took a pass off the boards from Kakko that the Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad fumbled. Chytil then buried it stick side on Bobrovsky to push the Rangers ahead 4-2 at 6:18 of the third.
That goal ended up he game-winner after Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov netted his second goal of the game at the seven-minute mark to keep his team within striking distance.
After contributing offensively on a nightly basis at the end of January and into early February, the Kid Line had cooled off for some time. But, boy, were they all over the ice for a lengthy stretch of games.
If Lafreniere, Chytil and Kakko are able to get back to their earlier ways as the Rangers inch closer to the playoffs, the hope is that they’ll be able to carry it over into the big games that lay ahead.
The Rangers have now been outshot 25-6 in their last two first periods. They were limited to just three shots in the opening frame once again on Saturday.
Instead of the 1-0 deficit they faced on Thursday in Carolina, the Rangers fell behind 2-0 as they bled turnovers and fell out of sorts in the defensive zone at times. The fact that they couldn’t generate anything on either of their two power-play opportunities didn’t help, either.
After Halak made the initial save on a long shot, the Slovakian netminder couldn’t find the puck before Barkov scored at 9:15 of the first period. Five and a half minutes later, Ryan Lomberg doubled the home team’s score with a slapper from the left faceoff circle as the Rangers struggled to clear the puck.
The Kids, however, saved the day.