41° Good Morning
41° Good Morning

Rangers rookies Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich are leaving their marks

New York Rangers' Jimmy Vesey, left, is congratulated

New York Rangers' Jimmy Vesey, left, is congratulated by Pavel Buchnevich after his goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 18, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn. Credit: AP / Jim Mone

While some Rangers veterans continue to scuffle offensively, a few of their kids are stepping up.

On Saturday night in Minnesota, all three rookies in the lineup hit the scoresheet, giving each at least 19 points, a combination that hadn’t been seen in these parts for 17 years. The last time that happened was when Mike York, Jan Hlavac and Kim Johnsson each posted at least 19 points in the 1999-2000 season.

In this version of New Kids on the Ice, Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei scored and Pavel Buchnevich, all 23 or younger, grabbed an assist in Saturday night’s 3-2 win over the Wild.

A bonus: Oscar Lindberg, 25, who was centering a line with Vesey and Buchnevich, added a second-period goal and an assist. Lindberg, who was sidelined until late October after offseason hip surgery, is heating up (5-5-10 in the last 20).

“Our kids’ line was real good. They got us a big goal [Vesey’s eventual game-winner at 17:34] in the second period,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “You’ve got to play four lines [after the travel]; our kids, I thought, came out and played a real good game.”

Skjei, a 22-year-old defenseman, leads Rangers rookies in points with four goals and 29 assists. Vesey, 23, is 15-10-25 and Buchnevich, 21, is 8-11-19 in only 34 games.

Seventeen years ago, York ended up with 26 goals and 50 points, Hlavac with 19 goals and 42 points and Johnsson with six goals and 21 points. These freshmen won’t reach those heights, but it’s encouraging for the coaching staff.

The Rangers have 10 games remaining: six on the road starting tomorrow in New Jersey and four at home, where they have lost six straight. The Islanders, who haven’t visited the Garden since opening night, a 5-3 Rangers win, will come knocking on Wednesday.

With 26 road wins, the Rangers would have to win their last six road games to break the NHL record of 31 set by the Red Wings in 2005-06. Two more would tie the Devils (28 in 1998-99) for second place and three would give them sole possession of second.

Vigneault tends to keep lineups intact after wins, so it will be interesting to see if a switch of the top two centers will continue against the Devils in Newark.

With the Rangers trailing 1-0 on Saturday, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash were paired on the penalty kill. When the teams were back at even strength, Mika Zibanejad won a faceoff in Stepan’s spot on a line with Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, which led to Skjei’s tying goal.

“I wanted to get Step and Nasher back together [on the PK] and Step was a little tired, so I put Mika there,” Vigneault said. Stepan then stayed with Nash and J.T. Miller.

“I just figured I might as well go with that,’’ Vigneault said. “There wasn’t a lot of thinking on that one.”

Notes & quotes: Dan Girardi (ankle) has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game. Adam Clendening could start for the second straight game . . . The Rangers are 10-3 in the second of back-to-backs.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports