Raanta shuts out Sharks in Rangers debut, cools off Jones
Antti Raanta was just looking to get a win in his New York Rangers debut. He did much more than that.
Raanta stopped all 22 shots he faced to become the fourth goalie in franchise history to get a shutout in his first start with the team, leading the Rangers to a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.
Getting his fourth career shutout, Raanta joined Hal Winkler (1926), John Ross Roach (1928) and Marcel Paille (1957) as the only goaltenders to blank an opponent in his first start with the Rangers.
"The only thing I was thinking was to win," said Raanta, who was playing for the first time since being acquired from Chicago in a draft-day trade in June. "Our guys defended so well."
Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast and Viktor Stalberg scored for New York, which snapped a three game winless streak (0-2-1) after opening the season with three wins.
"Everyone in the room knows that the level we were playing at isn’t acceptable," Staal said. "It’s something we wanted to take care of."
Martin Jones finished with 24 saves in his first loss of the season as the Sharks lost their second straight after opening the season with four wins. Jones had allowed just two goals in the Sharks season-opening winning streak and came in leading the NHL in goals-against average (0.49), save percentage (.982) and shutouts (2).
"We lost pretty much every facet of the game," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. "Lost races to pucks, lost battles, lost special teams (battles). There’s a price to pay to win and the other team was more willing to pay that price than us so we got what we deserved."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault opted to keep the same forward lines and defense pairings that could only score once in the 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
Vigneault’s gambit paid immediate dividends as Staal scored his first of the season 10:36 into the game. Staal’s point shot appeared to ricochet off of San Jose’s Joel Ward.
"I just tried to get to the net as fast as I can and I think it hit someone — one of their guys — and goes in," said Staal, who later recorded his 100th career assist on Stalberg’s goal. "We talked about getting a lot more pucks to the net, create some traffic, and then (Fast) was in front taking (Jones’ sightlines) away and that’s how it gets in the back of the net."
New York continued to attack in what was the Rangers’ most complete performance of the season.
While Raanta did not have to work especially hard, his toughest stop occurred early in the second period as New York was killing a 5-on-3 Sharks power play. San Jose center Joe Thornton attempted a quick shot from along the goal line as Patrick Marleau drove the net, but Raanta kicked the puck away.
The save was significant when Zuccarello scored his fourth of the season later in the period. With Rick Nash screening Jones, Zuccarello whipped a shot from the right side into the net.
Fast had a breakaway goal 3:47 into the third period.
"We gave up too many odd-man rushes," Jones lamented. "They did a good job getting to the net."
Raanta made a left pad save on Thomas Hertl as the Sharks came in on a 2-on-1.
Stalberg’s goal with 3:16 left ended the scoring.
"We were able to connect the dots," the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh said. "It allowed us to create some rush chances, spend some time in their end and try and negate their speed through the neutral zone."
Notes: This was the second of New York’s 17 back-to-backs this season. … Prior to the game, San Jose announced C Logan Couture had been placed on the injured reserve with a fractured right fibula. Couture suffered the injury during the Sharks’ practice in New Jersey last Thursday. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. … San Jose D Paul Martin missed his second straight game with a lower body injury. The Sharks also scratched RW Ben Smith and RW Joonas Donskoi. … New York scratched D Dylan McIlrath, RW Emerson Etem and LW Tanner Glass.