On Jan. 23, the New York Rangers officially reunited the “Kid Line” trio of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, a unit that was very effective in last spring’s run to the Eastern Conference finals.
Four games into their reunion the results are strong, and the Rangers hope to get another productive night from their young trio on Wednesday when they host the Vancouver Canucks.
New York retooled its lines in the wake of a 3-1 home loss to the league-best Boston Bruins on Jan 19. The decision came after the Rangers had scored seven goals in a four-game span.
Since then, the Rangers are 3-0-1. During those four games, New York has outscored foes by a 17-10 margin and Chytil, Lafreniere and Kakko have combined to produce eight goals and seven assists.
Of that trio, Chytil is the hottest as of late with six of his career-best 18 goals over the past four contests. He scored twice in Monday’s 5-4 overtime home win against the Calgary Flames that was decided when Lafreniere scored 97 seconds into overtime on a rebound of Mika Zibanejad’s shot during a two-on-one.
“Getting the game-winning goal in OT is always fun,” Lafreniere said. “It was a great up-and-down game.”
Kakko did not score but set up Chytil’s first goal and has four assists since the line was reunited. Chytil’s second goal came on a breakaway, and he now has 10 goals over his past 12 games.
The big night from New York’s youthful line occurred in a game that saw the Rangers squander three one-goal leads and force overtime on a goal by Zibanejad, who also scored in the second period and produced his fifth three-point game this season.
“It wasn’t pretty at times,” Zibanejad said after the Rangers improved to 17-4-3 since Dec. 5. “It was a hard battle. We just kept going. It was a big two points and a great way to come back from the break.”
Vancouver is 4-11-1 over its past 16 games and began its attempts at a rebuild when it dealt leading scorer Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders last week. The Canucks also are 2-1-1 since Rick Tocchet replaced Bruce Boudreau as coach.
Vancouver began a four-game road trip with a 5-4 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Monday night. Andrei Kuzmenko, Luke Schenn, Curtis Lazar and Phillip Di Giuseppe scored as the Canucks earned the point despite facing a 4-1 deficit midway through the second period, when they allowed three goals in 50 seconds.
“I thought we played a pretty darn good game on the road after the break,” Vancouver center J.T. Miller said. “We had a lot of heart today, a lot of pride, character as a team. I think that’s a really good hockey team over there and we easily could have quit at 4-1.”
Anthony Beauvillier, the main return for Horvat, made his Vancouver debut and took two shots on goal in 17:58 of ice time on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Kuzmenko.
“It could have gone either way and we battled back and showed great character in this room,” Beauvillier said. “We did a good job getting some goals back in the second and played hard in the third.”
Vancouver has won the past five meetings between the teams, most recently a 5-2 victory in February 2022 in New York.
–Field Level Media