Canucks, Rangers hope to display resolve
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers showed their toughness in earning another shootout win Saturday night. A stunning shootout loss earlier Saturday means the Vancouver Canucks will have another opportunity to display their resiliency on six-game Eastern Conference road trip.
The Rangers will look to continue their recent surge, and the Canucks will hope to once again bounce back from a shootout defeat, when New York hosts Vancouver Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Both teams extended their points streak to six games Saturday.
The Rangers came back from a second-period deficit after blowing a two-goal lead and earned a 5-4 shootout win over the host Columbus Blue Jackets on Jimmy Vesey's game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout. The visiting Canucks squandered a two-goal lead in the final three minutes of the third period and fell to the Buffalo Sabres in the shootout, 4-3.
The Rangers (8-7-2) have won five of their last six (5-0-1), a span in which they've won three times in the shootout. The six-game stretch has been eventful, but in posting four comeback wins and salvaging a point when it blew a two-goal lead in 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, a rebuilding New York squad is proving it has a resourceful base.
"I think it just shows a lot of mental strength that we have," Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk told reporters Saturday night. "We've been through it before and I think we're learning from it, growing from it."
The Canucks (10-6-2), who are 4-0-2 in their last six games and 1-0-2 on the road trip, absorbed a hard-earned lesson Saturday, when Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart forced overtime for the Sabres by scoring less than a minute apart in the waning moments of regulation.
"We had our chances to put it away," Canucks coach Travis Green told reporters afterward. "We had some decent efforts and some guys who just weren't good."
It was the second time on the road trip the Canucks have blown a two-goal lead. Vancouver scored the first two goals against the Red Wings on Tuesday before falling in the shootout, 3-2.
"You need to close it out, it's that simple," Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson told reporters Saturday afternoon. "That definitely burns, but we've got to use it to our advantage and not let it happen again."
Since backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev started and earned the win Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back set for the Rangers, it is likely star goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be in net for New York on Monday night. Lundqvist took the defeat in his most recent appearance Friday, when he recorded 28 saves in the loss to the Red Wings.
The Canucks, who will play a back-to-back set in New York and visit the Islanders on Tuesday night, are likely to split the starts in the Big Apple between number one goalie Jacob Markstrom, who has started the last seven games, and backup Anders Nilsson.
Markstrom took the loss Saturday, when he recorded 34 saves. Nilsson hasn't played since Oct. 25, when he took the defeat after making 26 saves in Vancouver's 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
Lundqvist is 8-5-0 in 13 career appearances against the Canucks.
Markstrom (six games) and Nilsson (five games) are each 3-1-1 against the Rangers.