Alexis Lafreniere delivered the overtime winning goal last night, giving the Rangers a much needed W. Not only was this Lafreniere’s first NHL goal, but it was the biggest goal of the Rangers young season. Coming into the game riding a four-game losing streak, the Rangers were desperate. Although they began the third period with the lead, they again gave it up, and the game went to overtime with a score of 2-2. At the 2:13 mark, Alexis Lafreniere gave the Rangers the 2 points they desperately needed to save their early season.

Colin Blackwell

Guentzel's 100th career goal lifts Penguins past Rangers 3-2 | The Star
Blackwell has played with multiple teams in his NHL career thus far; including the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators.

Not to be overlooked was the great shift and assist by Colin Blackwell to set up the goal. Since entering the lineup Sunday in Pittsburgh, Blackwell has played great. With the game winning assist, he now has a point in all three games he has played; and has played very well in the Rangers own zone. Coach Quinn had a strong quote when asked about giving Blackwell, a career 3rd/4th liner, an important OT shift.

“We get so caught up and in where people are drafted and the hype about people. But I don’t give two craps about that right now. We want to win hockey games and he was the best option.”

David Quinn talking about playing Colin Blackwell in overtime Thursday night

Alexis Lafreniere

Lafreniere skates at first official practice with Rangers
Lafreniere was drafted first overall by the Rangers in this year’s draft.

It was a huge moment for the Rangers, but a bigger one for Lafreniere. Alexis had been snake bitten this year and missed a handful of scoring chances in the first six games. This goal takes some pressure off him, and hopefully he can build on this to get some offensive momentum. Here is what he had to say post game while donning the Broadway Hat.

Game Breakdown

Recap: Ullmark steals a point for the Sabres in an overtime loss to the  Rangers - Die By The Blade
The Rangers and Sabres are both looking to climb the East rankings this week.

The Rangers played a very solid game Thursday night following a tough road trip. They were able to control play and sustained pressure in the Buffalo zone to keep maintain the score. Linus Ullmark turned away 36 of the 39 shots he faced but the Rangers were able to get that winning goal in OT. The biggest improvement from Tuesday was in the faceoff dot. Buffalo won 70% of the draws Tuesday night, which is crazy to have that large of a percentage. That lead to Buffalo controlling possessions and limiting Rangers chances in offensive zone by winning draws in their own zone. Thursday night, the Rangers evened out the percentage and won 47% of draws. The Rangers have been struggling all season with face-offs and need to figure something out before this costs them more games.

Artemi Panarin

New York Rangers Need Panarin to Succeed Where Nash & Gaborik Failed
Artemi Panarin has been red hot this year.

The Breadman delivered again last night. Artemi scored his third goal of the season, topped off with an assist on Ryan Stome’s goal. After being shut down Tuesday night, Panarin responded in a big way; his play was creative in the Buffalo zone all night. He put 4 shots on goal in his 21 minutes of ice time. His pass on the Strome goal was a perfect set up to get the Rangers on the board and kickstart the offensive momentum. Panarin now has 3 goals and 5 assists in the first 7 games.

Ryan Strome

Ryan Strome, Goal Whisperer
Ryan Strome has been referenced in prior years as “the ghost whisperer.”

After a slow start to the season, Strome is starting to heat up. He now has goals in two of his last three games, and has played demonstrably well in his own zone. Strome was much better on face-offs last night, winning 54% in the dot and getting the Rangers a better win percentage. With Filip Chytil out for the next month, the Rangers really need Strome to step up and take on a bigger role in solidifying the position.

Looking Ahead – Alexis Lafreniere On Fire

Rangers vs. Penguins 3.31.17: Pregame Notes
Rangers and Penguins will meet in their second series this week.

The Rangers now come back to MSG and open a two-game set with the Penguins on Saturday night. Last weekend, the Rangers dropped both games against Pittsburgh; but arguably out-played them both games. The Rangers are still in last place in the division, but just 4 points back of the 4th spot. The Penguins just took a bad loss from the Boston Bruins as well. The Rangers play six of their next seven games at home so they need to take advantage of this home stand to turn their slow start around. In the meantime, Rangers fans can enjoy this picture of their first overall pick.

Please be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers: @KHallNY.

Kyle Hall
About Author

Kyle Hall

Kyle is a lifelong diehard New York Rangers fan and in 2020 took over as the teams beat writer for Belly Up Sports. Kyle also has a NY Rangers podcast on the Belly Up Podcast Network called The Broadway Hat Podcast.

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