Miller has four points as Rangers rout Predators
NEW YORK (AP) — Defenseman K’Andre Miller had two goals and two assists in New York's six-goal first period, Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for his first shutout of the season, and the Rangers beat the Nashville Predators 7-0 on Sunday night.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists in the opening period, and Filip Chytil, Mika Zibenejad, Tyler Motte and Chris Kreider also scored to help New York cruise to its fourth-straight home win and second shutout in two days. The Rangers beat Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night after also beating the Penguins on Thursday and Washington on Tuesday.
The Rangers scored six times on their first eight shots, chasing Nashville starting goalie Kevin Lankinen after he gave up four goals on five shots. He was replaced by Juuse Saros.
Miller became the first defenseman in franchise history with four points in a single period as the Rangers led 6-0 less than 14 minutes in. The avalanche of early goals tied the franchise record for most in the first period, most recently achieved on Dec. 15, 1999, in an 8-3 home win over Los Angeles.
“That was pretty fun,'' Miller said. ”The puck was finding me."
Halak improved to 8-2-2 in his last 12 starts as the 37-year-old Slovak-born goalie secured his 53rd career shutout, third-most among active netminders behind Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Quick.
“It was a team effort from the drop of the puck until the end,'' Halak said. ”Last two games — yesterday and today — we did a really good job playing for 60 minutes and it paid off."
Halak, who has 294 career wins with seven NHL teams, was especially pleased with his first shutout as a Ranger. His family — including six-year-old son Nathan, who also is a goalie — were in attendance at Madison Square Garden.
"It’s more special when they are in the stands,'' Halak said. “It feels great to get a win and more special to get a shutout. Our D, even though we had a big lead, they were blocking shots.”
The Rangers became the sixth team in NHL history with back-to-back shutouts while scoring six or more goals. The Rangers had three-straight 6-0 shutouts from Feb. 4-10, 1973.
“I thought our guys did an excellent job,'' Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of his team's ability to stay focused with a six-goal lead after one period. ”They played the game the right way,″
The Predators were coming off a deflating home overtime loss to Winnipeg on Saturday and were dealing with a raft of injuries to key players. Nashville was without captain and leading scorer Roman Josi — hurt against the Jets — plus defenseman Ryan McDonagh and top forwards Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen.
Nashville trails the Jets by five points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It's humbling to get beat 7-0,'' Predators coach John Hynes said. ”It something we can learn from and we will. Tonight wasn't good enough."
Chytil opened the scoring with his 20th goal at 2:37 — assisted by Miller and Halak — followed by Zibanejad’s team-leading 37th at 7:22. Motte scored his fifth goal 52 seconds later before Miller scored at 9:09 to make it 4-0, ending Lankinen's night.
Panarin then added his 23rd goal at 10:01 — the fastest five goals to start a game in franchise history — before Miller scored again, his eighth of the season, with 6:24 remaining in the period.
Panarin has points in nine of his last 11 games and leads the Rangers with 80 points overall. Zibanejad, who had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s rout of the Penguins, also assisted on Panarin’s goal and has nine points in his last four games and 28 points in his last 21 contests — including 15 goals.
Kreider increased the lead to 7-0 at 9:02 of the second with his 32nd goal this season and the 261st of his career, moving the Rangers forward within one goal of Vic Hadfield for fifth-place on the Rangers' all-time list.
NOTES: The Predators also scratched D Alexandre Carrier and forwards Rasmus Asplund and Juuso Parssinen. ... The Rangers were without injured D Ryan Lindgren for the 11th straight game. ... Nashville won the previous meeting, 2-1 at home on Nov. 12.
Predators: At Buffalo on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host Carolina on Tuesday night to begin a home-and-home series.
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