Adam Fox scored his first NHL goal Tuesday in the Rangers’ stunning 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and that doesn’t even begin to tell how good he was.
Fox, a Jericho native, scored with 2:36 remaining and provided some insurance for the Rangers, who bounced back from their worst performance of the season in Sunday’s loss to Boston and closed a five-game homestand with two wins in the final three games, raising their record to 4-5-1. The rookie defenseman joined the rush on a counterattack and banged in the rebound of a shot by Chris Kreider.
“I was pretty tired getting up there, but I saw a chance to add to an odd-man rush, and, you know, [Kreider] threw a nice one off the pad [of Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy] and, you know, I was just trying to get it on net,’’ Fox, 21, said of his goal. “I wasn't really looking to pick a spot [to shoot]. I was just happy it went in. Obviously, a big goal in the game, too.’’
“I thought he was outstanding,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said of Fox. “You know, we're not playing Sisters of the Poor, either. We're playing the Lightning, and his poise really continues to impress me night in and night out.’’
Fox, who played his college hockey at Harvard and left a year early after the Rangers traded for his rights, was one of seven players in the lineup against Tampa Bay who are 21 years old or younger. Two others, Filip Chytil, 20, and Kaapo Kakko, 18, also scored against the Lightning, Kakko evened the score with a power-play goal in the second period and Chytil, who was called up Monday from AHL Hartford and replaced No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad, scoring the eventual game-winner with 7:14 remaining in the third.
The goal was just Fox’s second point of the season, which came as a surprise to Quinn, who thought he had more.
“I was actually stunned about two games ago, or game ago, when I looked at the stats, I saw he only had one assist,’’ he said. “You would think that, with the plays he has made, that he [would have] had a lot more points.’’
Fox, who was awarded the "Broadway Hat" by his teammates Tuesday, given after each win to the team’s choice as player of the game, said he is confident he has established himself 10 games into his NHL career.
“I think my mindset from the start was, I thought, you know, I definitely belong,’’ he said. “I wouldn't have left college if I didn't think I belonged. And, you know, points come. It's not really the focus of playing. You want to just help your team win games. And I think, for me, I've been trying to do that.
“And definitely, 10 games in, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable than the first one, so I'm just trying to get better every day here.’’