One of the reasons Jimmy Vesey didn’t sign with his hometown Bruins when the Harvard product was a college free agent in 2016 was because he wanted to get out of his comfort zone. He sure looks comfortable playing against them.
Vesey scored twice in a 29-second span in the first period in the Rangers’ 4-2 home win Wednesday night against Boston, the Blueshirts’ fifth straight win as they continue to distance themselves from their rough start to the year.
Both of Vesey’s goals came from in front of the net, the first off a rebound of Pavel Buchnevich’s shot and the second a cleanup of Kevin Shattenkirk’s long shot that hit the outside of the net.
“A couple of greasy ones,” said Vesey, who doubled his scoring account for the season and has five points in four career games against Boston.
“Two pucks just laying there for me, but I’ll take them.”
The Rangers (8-7-2) didn’t have to chase this one, took a 3-1 lead into the third and withstood some nervy moments before Rick Nash’s empty-netter sealed it. Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves) had one of his better performances of the season, stopping 25 of 26 shots over the final two periods.
Buchnevich continues to blossom, adding confidence to the impressive offensive instincts he’s shown since Day One last year as a rookie. He displayed strong hands in beating Zdeno Chara and roofing a shot in tight to open the scoring at 9:53 of the first before the Bruins tied it 21 seconds later. Nine of Buchnevich’s 14 points have come in the last seven games (six goals, three assists.)
For Buchnevich’s fellow sophomore Vesey, Wednesday represented some progress in that he remained a contributor until the final horn. In three of the previous five games, Vesey had either had limited third-period ice time or been benched altogether for the third.
Jimmy Vesey celebrates his first of two goals scored.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Still, Alain Vigneault has liked what he’s seen in a number of Vesey’s performances, including Wednesday’s, despite the peaks and valleys.
“Maybe he wasn’t finishing on a lot, but Jimmy was working hard and, like you saw (Wednesday) early on, before he scored the goals, he made a couple real strong plays along the wall in our end that permitted us to get the puck out,” Vigneault said. “So there’s more than just finishing.”
Finishing, though, is what has keyed the Rangers’ rise out of quicksand. They’re averaging 4.4 goals per game during their five-game win streak. And though there remain some defensive lapses, the penalty kill continues to excel.
After going 4-for-4 Wednesday, the Rangers are 12-for-12 over their last five games and have killed off 25 of their last 27 shorthanded situations.
They are a much more confident group than they were just more than a week ago. And knowing where they were 12 games into the season, they don’t expect to become complacent.
“We don’t take it for granted, absolutely not,” Marc Staal said. “We have to keep on working and keep grabbing points when we are on a roll like this.”