New York Rangers blank Los Angeles Kings, improve to 27-9-1 on road

By Dennis Bernstein, The Sports Xchange  |  March 26, 2017 at 8:53 AM
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LOS ANGELES -- If it was up to the New York Rangers, they might want to play the rest of the NHL season on the road. For the Los Angeles Kings, they cannot score regardless of the venue.

Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh scored the first two goals, and Antti Raanta made 30 saves as the New York Rangers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 on Saturday.

New York (46-25-4) snapped a two-game slide and swept the home-and-home season series. The Rangers extended their league-leading road record to 27-9-1.

Los Angeles (35-32-7) lost for the fifth time in its last seven games. The Kings trail the St. Louis Blues by nine points with eight games remaining for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles was shut out for the 10th time this season. Jonathan Quick stopped 17 New York shots.

Raanta again was the story for the Rangers, keeping the anemic Kings off the board with solid work between the pipes filling in for starter Henrik Lundqvist, who has been sidelined with a hip injury since March 7.

With Lundqvist scheduled to start Sunday in Anaheim and if this was the last effort by Raanta for a while, he went out on a high note. The win extended his season record to 16-8-2 and the shutout was his fourth of the season.

"I felt really good. The last couple games I have been playing a little too aggressive, and tonight I tried to fix it a little," Raanta said. "I tried to be more in the crease and just let the puck come to me. It worked out pretty good, and also how we defended. Even thought they had really good scoring chances, our guys made huge blocks at the end."

While Vigneault cannot explain the Rangers overwhelming success on the road this season, he though this game aligned with most of their efforts away from Madison Square Garden.

"There were some areas of our game that I liked, and there were some areas that we need to be better. We knew the type of game; heavy, fore-checking puck possession kind of game that they like to play," Vigneault said. "I thought for the most part in the first half of the game we did all right, and in the second it slipped and that's when our goaltender stepped in and that's when our power play got us a timely goal."

For the Kings, their lack of offense probably doomed their season.

"The Rangers block a lot of shots and sacrifice their bodies, and we had our chances and we didn't score. That's been a problem for us all year long,'' Los Angeles' Jeff Carter said. "If you don't score, you don't win too many games, no matter how good your goalie is. Quick kept us in the game, we didn't give him any help."

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead on Stepan's 15th goal of the season at 13:02 of the second period. Stepan beat Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb at the right post to poke in the rebound of Brendan Smith's shot off the end boards with Mats Zuccarello drawing the secondary assist.

New York extended their margin to 2-0 on McDonagh's sixth goal of the season on the power play at 1:50 of the third period. McDonagh's wrist shot made its way through heavy traffic in the slot past a screened Quick with Zuccarello earning his second assist and Mika Zibanejad earning the secondary helper.

Rick Nash added an empty-net goal, his 21st of the season at 18:52 of the third period to complete the scoring with Zibanejad getting an assist.

NOTES:

-- New York did not dress D Adam Clendening, D Kevin Klein, LW Matt Puempel, LW Tanner Glass, D Steven Kampfer and C Brandon Pirri.

-- The Rangers continue their three-game California road trip Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. They are 11-1-0 against teams in the Pacific Division this season.

-- New York assigned G Magnus Hellberg to its AHL Hartford affiliate and signed free agent goaltender Chris Nell on Thursday. Nell, 22 played at Bowling Green State and posted a .916 save percentage this year with a 17-14-2 record.

-- Los Angeles scratched LW Kyle Clifford, C Nick Shore, D Kevin Gravel and C Jordan Nolan.

-- Kings RW Jonny Brodzinski made his NHL debut wearing sweater number 76, the first player to don that number in franchise history. Brodzinski was the leading scorer for the Kings Ontario AHL affiliate this season, registering 25 goals and 22 assists in 47 games.

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