The Rangers have won six of their last seven one-goal games and are 7-1-3 on the season in matchups decided by a single tally.
After dropping a majority of their tight contests earlier in the season, the Rangers have since found ways to lock games down when holding a lead. Whether it’s limiting an opponent’s high-danger scoring chances in the final frame or ensuring their forecheck remains aggressive until the end of regulation, the Blueshirts are closing out games.
Asked what traits teams that are successful in tight games need to have, Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant pointed to the ability to maintain leads.
“I think we try and play the same way,” he said. “We don’t try and change and, you know, [the Blackhawks] pull the goalie when it was [3-2], our mentality is to go out there and make sure we’re fortunate when the opportunity is there. It’s like a penalty kill, you got to jump at the right time.
“We don’t want to play the last six minutes of a game backing off and backing off because that’s not the makeup of our team.”
Ryan Strome pointed to the Rangers’ recent show of maturity in low-scoring games, while also acknowledging that they’re playing a team game at the moment. The key, according to Strome, has been playing with confidence in third periods.
“I think we have everyone playing to their roles,” the Rangers’ second-line center said. “I think guys are buying in, doing what it takes to win, sacrificing. Everyone’s in it for the common goal, everyone wants to win hockey games. It’s a lot of fun, coming to the rink and being in this position. I don’t think we take it for granted, I think we’re a hardworking team and we got to keep it going here.“We got a pretty tough stretch here to Christmas, but we’ve got to bear down and keep going.”
The 16-4-3 Rangers travel to Chicago for a rematch with the Blackhawks on Tuesday before quickly returning home to host the Avalanche on Wednesday.
With goalie Igor Shesterkin on injured reserve, there’s a possibility Alexandar Georgiev could get both starts after the usual backup netminder made 25 saves in the Rangers’ 3-2 win over Chicago. Adam Huska, who was recalled from AHL Hartford on Saturday, could also make his NHL debut in one of those games.
“We’ll talk about it when it gets there,” Gallant said. “Me and [director of goaltending Benoit Allaire] haven’t discussed that. … We’ll worry about that, and then we’ll see where it goes.”
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