As has been practically since the day he donned the blue jersey, Artemi Panarin was in the middle of it all. That included a goal and a pair of assists during the first two periods of Monday’s game at the Garden against the Flyers.
It also included a risky overtime move that went wrong and led directly to Jakub Voracek’s breakaway winner at 3:47 to give Philadelphia a 5-4 victory in a game in which the Blueshirts were half sloppy, half urgent and, well, just not. quite capable of doing it despite having a 3-2 and 4-3 lead
Do you want to give the Blueshirts a participation trophy for coming close after knowing they would have to play without Adam Fox, Pavel Buchnevich and Phil Di Giuseppe, who were included in the COVID-19 protocol list? Be our guest. Actually, that’s what the loser’s point represents, right?
The first period was predictably miserable in the wake of the cancellation of the morning skating for protective reasons, after the Blueshirts had pulled out on Sunday. But after falling 2-0, the Rangers upped it and appeared to have the Flyers on the run after Panarin scored a goal and two assists in his team’s first three goals.
It was as if Panarin had never missed those nine games after taking a leave of absence in the wake of those unsubstantiated assault charges against him. It was actually like it was 2019-20 all over again, with the Russian Rockette dictating and creating as it went.
Panarin spoke to the press for the first time since Andrei Nazarov made the accusations on February 22, but postponed comment on the matter.
“This is probably not the time to discuss it,” Panarin said through a translator. “I have nothing to hide. I will address everything after the season, but right now, the focus is on the game and not these discussions.”
Okay, so let’s turn the focus to Panarin’s game, which hasn’t missed a beat. In fact, the No. 10 even seems revived after missing nine games, propelling the game with pace and precision.
“I didn’t really change my routine. Maybe I rested more, ”Panarin said when asked about preparing for his return. “Maybe that’s the lesson that sometimes you have to rest and you will play better.”
If Panarin was referring to cargo management, maybe that’s what the Blueshirts were taking advantage of in the first period where Keith Kinkaid was too shaky to prop up the team that had been completely off the ice since Saturday and it seemed like it. .
But the Blueshirts picked up the pace and played with energy and urgency during the second period to gain a 3-2 lead on goals from Panarin, Colin Blackwell and Julien Gauthier, the latter of whom impressed with the puck but were also in the game. penalty area. three different careless moments.
In a minute you just can’t understand how David Quinn was able to scratch the 23-year-old power winger the way the coach has done seven times. The next minute, you don’t understand how Quinn could interpret it, even in a reenactment.
The 3-2 lead was erased at 6:36 pm of the second when Joel Farabee scored a power play goal with Gauthier in the area. And after Kevin Rooney gave the Blueshirts a 4-3 lead early in the third, Voracek tied the goal in a power play at 5:33 with Gauthier in the area in front of a minor double of high stick.
The Rangers played with spirit. They had a huge advantage in the territorial game, Mika Zibanejad was assertive, Chris Kreider led the net, but there were still too many mistakes and too many missed opportunities. This was a game that the Rangers seemed to have taken advantage of. But not quite.
Panarin, who tried to circumvent Kinkaid’s smooth extra time, tried to pass Voracek on the left boards, but was unable to do so, allowing the Flyers winger to only enter the goalkeeper, opting to focus on the positive.
“I was very happy that the team, unlike at the beginning of the year, did not get discouraged and came back after conceding a couple of goals,” said number 10. “We didn’t have that quality at the beginning of the season. That quality manifests itself more and more. He did it tonight and I’m very happy with the response. “