New York City hockey continues to surprise during the opening month of the 2018-19 NHL season.
While the New York Islanders’ five-game win streak was snapped on Monday, the Rangers extended a win streak of their own to four games after a come-from-behind 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Rebuilding teams normally don’t pull off streaks like this.
Yet here are the Rangers, a team that is only going to get younger as the season progresses, getting production from some of the most junior members of the roster.
Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Blueshirts reeled off four unanswered goals scored by players 25 and under. In fact, the first three goals of that run were exclusively tallied by 23-year-olds in Anthony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk and Pavel Buchnevich.
“We showed some of the characteristics you need to have a good hockey team,” head coach David Quinn said. “It makes you feel pretty good.”
It was Pionk’s third-period, game-winning goal that nabbed the highlight reels as he went coast-to-coast starting with a spin move from behind the Rangers net before streaking down the left wing, driving in on Canadiens star goalie Carey Price and beating him with a forehand move.
The stellar goal was the second for the young defenseman in as many games as Quinn has seemingly taken the training wheels off.
“This day and age, you need your defensemen involved,” Quinn said. “He can skate and he has a little bit of an offensive flair to his game. You can’t take creativity away from people.”
Pionk is one of six Rangers goal scorers 25 years old or younger that have tallied goals during this four-game win streak, which have accounted for nine of New York’s 13 regulation tallies. That kind of output is resonating well with their head coach.
“I’m happy for them. These guys are good players and I think the biggest thing at this level… you have to redefine what hard work is,” Quinn said. “It’s just a lesson they have to learn. They’re young and it’s fun to watch and I feel good for them.”