Late penalty kill saved Rangers and set up dramatic OT win

Vincent Trocheck’s penalty could have been disastrous.

It came with less than three minutes left in the third period Monday against the Flames, a tripping call that forced the Rangers to defend and force overtime instead of trying to win in regulation. But what happened next confirmed just how “huge” — as Rangers head coach Jared Gallant described his defensive stance — a power-killing penalty for the Blueshirts.

The Rangers countered Calgary’s man advantage and eventually won 5-4 in overtime. He has now hit 21 of 26 penalties in his last 10 games, including a 2-for-3 performance against the Flames. His unit was 11th in the NHL at 81.0 percent entering Tuesday.

“We know if we give up a goal, it’s probably a hockey game,” Gallant said Tuesday. “I mean, we still [would have] There’s a little bit of time left, but there’s a good chance you’re going to lose this game.”

Nazim Kadri was stopped by Rangers goalie Jaroslav Halak late in the third period of the Rangers’ OT win over the Flames.
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Gallant attributed his last kill against the Flames to key members of that unit — including Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider — logging two shifts. He felt that they “didn’t give up a real good, quality scoring opportunity at all.”

Jaroslav Halek made two saves while Trocheck served his own penalty, and Rangers had another shot blocked before a shorthanded goal chance.

“People committed to hitting that penalty, and I thought they were great,” Gallant said. “They were aggressive on them, and that was obviously a big, big part of the win. [Monday] Night.”

The Rangers’ return from the All-Star break featured a new-look fourth line. According to Natural State Trick, for the first time, Will Coyle, Jake Leschisian and Sammy Bliss skated together — logging 6:37 of ice time against the Flames. Gallant said Tuesday that he thought his line was “solid” and “played real good hockey.”

Blais returned from a “major” two-week AHL conditioning assignment, skating in a Rangers game for the first time since Jan. 16, while Cuylle appeared in his fourth NHL game. In the two games he played while Blais was with AHL Hartford, Coyle spent time on the line with Lachisian and Julian Gauthier.

“I’m seeing what I want to see, what we need these players to do,” Gallant said. “I was happy with their game. I really was.”

The Gallants didn’t change their lines or defensive pairings at all for practice, as Gauthier, Vitaly Kravtsov and Lebor Hajek were the extras who rotated. Alexis Lafreniere-Filip Chytil-Kaapo Kakko and Cuylle-Leschyshyn-Blais – all retained from Monday night.

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