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Ryan Reaves, New York Rangers, ‘proving to the league that we’re a contender,’ take over first place

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NEW YORK — Ryan Reaves, a quick-witted ahead, was delivered to the New York Rangers within the offseason to supply toughness, grit, some measurement on the fourth line and perhaps even a number of laughs on the bench.

Objectives weren’t on that record, and the 34-year-old veteran lived as much as that with zero of them in his first 32 video games. Recreation No. 33, although, was a unique story.

“I did not actually change a lot,” Reaves mentioned. “I had a horrible nap (earlier than the sport) and a Purple Bull, and I felt good.”

It confirmed.

The 6-foot-2 Reaves scored the primary two targets of his Rangers profession, after scoring only one final season for the Vegas Golden Knights, and New York outlasted the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-3, in a battle of Japanese Convention elite groups.

“I have been taking my nutritional vitamins,” Reaves mentioned.

With a Madison Sq. Backyard crowd at a playoff pitch, the Rangers rallied from a 2-0 and a 3-1 deficit within the first interval to enhance to 26-10-4, pulling forward of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place within the Metropolitan Division.

“I feel we all know it. I feel perhaps a few of the league would not imagine it, however allow them to hold (not) believing it,” Reaves mentioned, when requested if the Rangers needs to be thought of among the many greatest groups within the league. “We’re gonna hold doing our factor and, I imply, the standings do not lie.”

It wasn’t all Reaves towards the short-handed Maple Leafs. Chris Kreider notched his twenty fifth objective, Ryan Strome had a objective and an help, and Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panarin every added two assists for New York. Igor Shesterkin stopped 35 photographs, together with 27 over the ultimate two intervals.

Mitch Marner had a objective and an help, and Ilya Mikheyev and Michael Bunting additionally scored for the Maple Leafs, who’re nonetheless lacking some regulars attributable to COVID-19 protocols. Jack Campbell had 21 saves.

Shesterkin stopped William Nylander on a breakaway 2:11 into the third interval to maintain the rating tied at 3 and draw chants of “I-gor” from the gang.

Strome put the Rangers forward with 9:10 remaining. Ryan Lindgren‘s shot was deflected by Nylander, however the puck went to Strome on the precise facet, and he put it in earlier than Campbell may recover from in place. It was Strome’s ninth of the season.

Kreider made it 5-3 as he scored from the left facet on a rebound of Jacob Trouba’s shot from the precise level with 4:27 remaining.

However even for these Rangers, who usually discover their identify on the rating sheet, they knew what the distinction was Wednesday.

“The fourth line, truthfully,” Strome mentioned. “Even with out the targets, I feel the entire sport they have been the one line that was in a position to get in there and forecheck and create turnovers and have sustained zone time. We fed off that.”

Auston Matthews, who scored in 10 straight street video games, almost prolonged his streak and pulled the Maple Leafs again inside one with 3:52 remaining when the puck went off his skate and in, but it surely was disallowed after officers decided he had made a definite kicking movement.

The Rangers will meet the Hurricanes on Friday in North Carolina. Reaves shouldn’t be certain there’s a greater approach to enter that elite matchup than coming off such a victory.

“It exhibits that we are able to we are able to grasp with the massive boys … that we’re one of many large boys,” he mentioned. “We have to maintain beating the playoff groups. That is one thing we have talked about, however I feel we’re proving to the league that we’re a contender.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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