The absence of Mika Zibanejad and the return of Ryan McDonagh on Friday changed the look of the Rangers power-play units. And they went 2-for-7 against the Hurricanes in a 5-1 victory.
Zibanejad, the righthanded center who has a team-leading 11 points on the poer play, was sidelined for the second consecutive game with concussion symptoms, and lefty David Desharnais stepped in. That left Kevin Shattenkirk as the lone righty on the first unit. McDonagh was back on the all-lefty second unit, replacing Brady Skjei for much of the time.
“Having two righthanded shooters changes the dynamics, the one-touches (passes and shots), and with our second unit, five lefthanders, it’s different preparation for the other team,” coach Alain Vigneault said before the game. “It doesn’t have the same looks and options when you’re two [righties] and three [lefties]. There’s different things we try and do with one righty and four lefties [to create options]. It still should be an effective power play; we have a lot of talent on both units. It’s up to them to execute.”
They did to some extent. Desharnais capitalized on a stickhandling gaffe by goalie Scott Darling at the beginning of the second period and with a totally different unit, Paul Carey scored with 39.3 left in regulation.
In the seven games before Friday, the power play, which once ranked as high as 3rd in the NHL, nosedived, cashing in only once on 18 opportunities, and dropped into 10th place in the league at 21.4 percent. Now they are 3-for-25.
Notes: The return of McDonagh resulted in Steven Kampfer being a healthy scratch for the first time in five games . . . Mats Zuccarello’s point streak ended at five games . . . With back-to-backs on the next two weekends, backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec will get some starts, Vigneault said. His last start was Oct. 28.