The Rangers’ new acquisitions provide sparks in the penalty shoot-out

Rangers held a 3-0 lead on Friday night when striker Dryden Hunt was hit with a double minor high-sticking penalty towards the end of the first period, but their takeovers of trade deadlines kept penalty-kill units fresh and prevented a potential one Momentum Shift .

Head coach Gerard Gallant saw the four-minute penalty as a turning point in Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Penguins at the Garden. Pittsburgh mustered just two shots on goal, while new Rangers forward Tyler Motte put one on Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry despite losing a player.

Rangers’ penalty shootouts haven’t been their usual source of energy in recent games, but they certainly were on Friday.

“That four-minute penalty was excellent,” Gallant said after the win, in which Rangers beat three of the Penguins’ four power plays. “We added more depth to our team and added a few more penalty killers to keep the lads from getting tired. That was undoubtedly huge for us.”

Andrew Copp, acquired by the Jets Monday, led all Rangers forward with 3:17 shorthanded ice time. Motte, the Rangers’ other trade-deadline acquisition expected to play a role in penalty shootouts, recorded a vigorous 1:55 on PK.

Andrew Copp
Andrew Copp fights for the puck in Rangers’ win over Penguins.

Forward duo Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad remained intact while Copp lined up with Barclay Goodrow and Motte ran alongside Ryan Strome.

“Especially against a team like that, they’re probably frustrated from this start,” said Zibanejad. “The last four minutes of that period, getting that kill and maintaining momentum in the second phase was great for us.”

Kaapo Kakko missed his 24th straight game and Kevin Rooney had to sit out his 11th straight, but Gallant said the two ran alone.

The return target for both strikers is still early April.

Alexis Lafreniere returned to his natural third row left wing position alongside Filip Chytil and Goodrow after 20 games with the top unit alongside Kreider and Zibanejad.

Frank Vatrano took Lafreniere’s place at the helm, while Copp switched to the right wing from Artemi Panarin and Strome. Motte, Jonny Brodzinski and Hunt formed the fourth line.

Defenseman Justin Braun was scratched for the first time since the Rangers took over on Monday. He played against the Devils but was a healthy scratch in favor of rookie Braden Schneider on Friday. Schneider was back on the third pair with Patrik Nemeth.

“The kid was sitting outside the other night and the kids played well for us,” Gallant said of why he scratched brown. “It just moved people and we’ll see. We have 17 games left to figure out what the best combinations will be. There might be some movement and it’s not all bad play. It tries different options.”

Ryan Reaves was also scratched along with Libor Hajek, Julien Gauthier and Greg McKegg. The Rangers’ new acquisitions provide sparks in the penalty shoot-out


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