Ranger goalie stops 55 shots on birthday
After his team allowed 56 shots on goal, Rangers coach David Quinn thought the defense was pretty good.
He had Alexandar Georgiev to thank for that.
Georgiev made a careerhigh 55 saves to lead the Blueshirts over the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1, on Sunday night. It was the second-most saves in a regular-season game in franchise history. Mike Richter holds the record with 59 on Jan. 31, 1991.
“He played outstanding. He’s getting better and better,” Quinn said of his second-year goalie on his 23rd birth- day.
“It was a spe- cial birthday,” Georgiev said. “I tried not to concentrate on the birthday wishes. I knew I had an important game in front of me. I’m very happy it ended the way it ended.”
Mika Zibanejad, Jimmy Vesey and Adam McQuaid scored for the Rangers, who finished their five-game homestand at 22-1.
“Sometimes you need a performance like this and he came up big for us, gave us a chance,” Zibanejad said of Georgiev.
Kevin Hayes added an empty-netter, and Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider each picked up two assists.
Kasperi Kapanen scored for the Maple Leafs, who saw their four-game winning streak end.
“We played a pretty good game,” Kapanen said. “Their goalie made 55 saves. He played a tremendous game. That’s just hockey.”
Toronto took a seasonhigh 56 shots on goal, forcing Georgiev to be at his best throughout. He became the seventh goalie in franchise
history with 50 or more saves in a game. The previous goalie to do it was Henrik Lundqvist last year — also on his birthday.
The Rangers penalty killers also helped to slow down the Maple Leafs. Toronto went 0 for 4 on the power play despite managing 23 shots.
“I actually thought we defended pretty well,” Quinn said. “That’s a scary, scary team. I mean they have high-end talent. They can beat you 1-on-1, but boy I thought we did a good job clearing the net front out. They didn’t have many second chances.”
Leading 2-1 in the third period, McQuaid gave the Rangers some insurance when he scored from the point at 11:59 for his second goal of the season.
The Rangers, who were blanked by Carolina on Friday, got off to a fast start against the Leafs.
Kreider sent a pass from behind the net to Zuccarello, who was alone in front. Toronto backup goalie Garret Sparks stopped Zuccarello twice, but the loose puck went to Zibanejad, who scored his 23rd of the season just 28 seconds into the game.
Given the early lead, Georgiev was sharp in making several stellar saves on the Maple Leafs’ power play minutes later.
“It was incredibly important to keep it 1-0 at that point,” Georgiev said. “The boys did a great job. We killed that penalty and it was a bit easier after that.”
Alexandar Georgiev kicks away third-period shot from Leafs’ Patrick Marleau Sunday night at Garden.