Rangers rally to beat Flyers on Vladimir Tarasenko's OT goal
PHILADELPHIA — For much of the second period Wednesday night, when they weren’t playing well and even looked tired while playing with just 16 skaters, the Rangers could have used newcomer Patrick Kane against the Flyers.
But Kane, who had been acquired late Tuesday night in a three-team trade with Chicago and Arizona, wasn’t with them, as management had decided to wait for Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Ottawa Senators for Kane to make his Rangers debut.
Fortunately, though, Kane wasn’t the only star right wing GM Chris Drury had acquired in the lead-up to Friday’s NHL trade deadline. Three weeks ago, Drury had brought in Vladimir Tarasenko from St. Louis. And on Wednesday, Tarasenko reminded the Rangers and their fans that he was a big-time addition to the roster, too.
Tarasenko had his best game with the Rangers since coming over with defenseman Niko Mikkola on Feb. 9, dishing out two assists before scoring 2:32 into overtime to give the Rangers their second straight victory, a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the lowly Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
“Sometimes pucks go in,’’ said Tarasenko, who has three goals and four assists in 10 games as a Ranger. “But I feel like the more I hang out around the guys, the more I talk with them, the more I understand what’s going on on the ice, where everybody is going. And I feel more comfortable over there.’’
Tarasenko set up both his linemates, Mika Zibanejad in the first period (Zibanejad's 100th career power-play goal) to open the scoring, and Chris Kreider at 10:33 of the third to tie the game at 2-2, after the Flyers had taken a 2-1 lead in the second.
Then, on the third shift of the overtime, Tarasenko took a drop pass from Filip Chytil in the neutral zone, skated one-on-three into the Flyers’ zone, and whipped a shot past Flyers goalie Carter Hart for the win.
“That was great to see,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Good for him. He had a nice opportunity, and a real good night for him.’’
Gallant was asked if he thought it was important for Tarasenko, who had been not so noticeable for most of his previous nine games with the club, to have a big night as he tries to get comfortable in his new surroundings.
“I think it’s really important,’’ he said. “I think he’s really excited and happy, and I know I am for him tonight. You know, get an overtime winner shooting the puck, and, you know, he made a good play and the other goals, and so good for him.”
A Tarasenko who is comfortable and scoring goals, plus Kane will make for a loaded top six forwards for the Rangers, who now have the two newcomers, plus Zibanejad, Kreider, Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck making up their top two lines.
Gallant said at the morning skate he will keep Tarasenko with Zibanejad and Kreider, and put Kane with Trocheck and Panarin, his old linemate from their days together in Chicago.
The entire Rangers team was happy to have Kane join their squad, including Chytil, who said at the morning skate that Kane “was my idol growing up.’’ But no one was happier than Panarin, who, in the space of three weeks, saw the team add Tarasenko, his longtime friend from the Russian national team, and Kane, his old linemate from his first two seasons in the NHL.
“I think we just feel hockey pretty much the same, and then see hockey the same,’’ Panarin said when asked to explain why he and Kane had such great chemistry in Chicago. “I don’t know, we just feel it. We don’t have to look. We know where each other is. We just feel it. I hope that feeling is still in us.’’