Crushed Ice: Mats Zuccarello at center of NY Rangers' best chances
Crushed Ice: Mats Zuccarello at center of NY Rangers' best chances; postgame transcript following loss to Avalanche
BY Pat Leonard
Mats Zuccarello was a major factor in the Rangers’ three best scoring chances of Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to the Avalanche, including the finish on their only goal.
Zuccarello played a season-high 14:32 in his fourth game since his recent AHL call-up and scored just his seventh career NHL goal with 9:17 remaining in the first period off assists from Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Zuccarello sealed a defenseman on his back in front and deflected Girardi’s wrister from the right boards past Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov.
On a third-period power play, Zuccarello hit a post with a bullet off a faceoff win by Brad Richards with 7:49 remaining. Then later on the same power play, the 24-year-old Norwegian made a terrific pass from in front of the net to Richards in the right circle, but Varlamov robbed Richards with a glove save.
“He’s helping the power play,” John Tortorella said. “He had a couple chances, has a bomb off the faceoff that hits the post. Still needs some work as far as five-on-five. I thought that line gave us some good shifts throughout the game, so he makes plays. He’s around the puck, and certainly with the man advantage he makes a lot of plays there for us, so we’ll continue with him.”
The line of Zuccarello, John Mitchell and Mike Rupp did generate some consistent pressure and help Tortorella roll a third line after the coach benched Brian Boyle’s trio for its lack of defensive discipline and offensive production.