Home SPORTS Rangers' deadline acquisitions make big impact in victory

Rangers’ deadline acquisitions make big impact in victory

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The Rangers opened up the scoring in their eventual 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, which evened this second-round series at two-all heading back to Raleigh, NC, with a sequence that may as well have has been sponsored by president and general manager Chris Drury.

While on the power play, Andrew Copp whipped a cross-zone pass over to Frank Vatrano for the 1-0 score at 13:31 of the first period. The Rangers’ two top-six trade-deadline acquisitions got things started and kept it rolling throughout the game, combining for two goals and three assists in the victory.

“Huge, they’ve been huge,” coach Gerard Gallant said of the four players the Rangers acquired leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. “The day we got them, we were really excited with the character of these guys and the work ethic that they bring to our team. They’re putting the puck in the net for us, they’re doing all the little things and working hard, competing hard. But the character and the leadership of those guys show has been good for us. ”

Frank Vatrano (right) scores a goal on Antti Raanta during the Rangers’ 4-1 Game 4 win over the Hurricanes.

After Vatrano’s power-play tally, Copp had a hand in the Rangers’ second goal of the night just over two minutes later when Adam Fox tipped in a Ryan Lindgren shot. Vatrano then earned the secondary assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal in the second period that gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead at 16:48.

Copp capped his three-point night with a one-timer on a drop pass from Ryan Strome in the third period. Through 11 playoff games so far, Copp has five goals and five assists while Vatrano has chipped in three goals and four assists.

The Rangers have received scattered contributions from their trade-deadline acquisitions, but all four have made an impact on the team in the playoffs.

Despite missing the first five games of the first-round series against Pittsburgh with an upper-body injury he sustained at the end of the regular season, Tyler Motte has given the Rangers bottom six and the penalty kill a boost with his relentless defense and high -energy play.

Additionally, Justin Braun stepped in on the Rangers’ bottom defensive pairing next to Braden Schneider when fellow veteran defenseman Patrick Nemeth struggled early on this postseason.

“In the playoffs and in the regular season, they came in and were big factors,” defenseman Adam Fox said. “I think it was guys with experience and guys who know how to play the right way. Up front, you can see what Copper and Frank are able to do, skilled players.

“And you can see the bolt of energy we get from Motter when he’s in and he’s a very, I think, underrated part of what we’ve been doing here in the playoffs. When he came back, it seems like defensively he’s all over the ice and killing penalties is huge.

“Then having Brauner back there, he’s a veteran guy, he’s played in a lot of big games, a lot of playoff games and just a calming presence. Not always going to be expecting to score a goal, but in the playoffs especially, there’s a lot of times where he’s able to calm guys down. He’s playing with a young guy in Schneids and he’s able to help him out a lot, too. Obviously, there are some great acquisitions. ”


Gallant went back to the top-six configuration the Rangers have rolled with for much of the playoffs, with Vatrano on the right wing of Chris Kreider and Zibanejad and Copp on the right wing next to Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.

The one tweak he made to the lineup was flipping Motte up to the right wing of the third line with Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil and bumping Kaapo Kakko to the left wing of the fourth unit alongside Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves.

“We wanted to keep our lines pretty much together,” Gallant said. “Motte and Kaapo, we switched out a little bit. A little bit more speed up there, but that was it. ”

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