The Rangers are on a serious roll. Two nights after dominating the Lightning by five goals, the Blueshirts put up another bucketful of goals, speeding past the Blues at Madison Square Garden, 5-0, Tuesday night. The fast-forward Blueshirts (7-3) have 40 goals in 10 games, a stunning average of four every 60 minutes.
Rookie Jimmy Vesey scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season and added two assists in the first 40 minutes, and four other Rangers found the net: Dan Girardi, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. And in his return after missing five games with neck spasms, Chris Kreider continued where he left off, with two assists.
With the goal from in front, at 11:11 of the first period, Vesey became the first Rangers rookie to score six goals in the first 10 games of the season since Darren Turcotte in 1989-90. Vesey, 23, the much-sought after free agent out of Harvard who decided not to sign with Nashville, has nine points in 10 games.
“I think it’s a product of me being put into a lot of great situations by [Alain Vigneault] and playing with guys like [Derek Stepan] and Nash . . . I’m starting to really get confident out there, trying some things that I might not have tried a couple games ago. Confidence is everything in this game and right now it’s high and I’m riding that.”
Starting in Washington on Oct. 22, the Rangers have won five of six.
Entering the third period, Henrik Lundqvist (35 saves) had his biggest cushion since last season thanks to a transition game that led to repeated odd-man rushes.
“A lot of time it starts in our own end, how we break out,” Lundqvist said. “That’s how you really get speed to your game, that first pass, close support. I’m super impressed.”
It was his first shutout since Feb. 21 against Detroit, and you could tell he was sharp early, making a lunging glove save on Robby Fabbri’s break-in backhander with 4:56 left in the first. Lundqvist, who allowed a goal by Vladimir Tarasenko 1:13 into the game on Oct. 15 , is now 4-1 in his last five appearances against the Blues. (5-3-2). His focus stayed sharp through the Blues flurries in the second period (16 shots) and in the third.
A left-to-right passing sequence from Vesey to J.T. Miller to Hayes made it 5-0 with 1:43 left in the second. Not only have the younger players provided energy, the veterans are rebounding. Nash, who had 15 goals in an injury-plagued season last year, scored his fifth by banking a rebound of his wrister off goaltender Jake Allen from behind the net at 6:18 of the second. He is two away from 400 career goals.
And much-maligned defenseman Dan Girardi tallied his second on a long shot that deflected in to open the scoring at 9:37.
The Rangers had two scares, when Ryan McDonagh went to the dressing room in the first after being clipped with a high stick, and in the second, when Stepan was drilled by Jaden Schwartz. Both players returned after being examined. When the two teams last met, the Rangers outshot the Blues 15-0 in the third period, but lost 3-2. There was no need for that type of assault Tuesday night.