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Georgiev Earns First NHL Shutout in 5-0 Win Over Islanders

by Michael Obernauer /

It is a sign that things are going good when your red-hot rookie scores for the fifth consecutive game, his second straight match with the winning goal, and he is not even the biggest star of the show. Not even the biggest rookie star of the show.

And right now, things are going good for the Rangers.

Beginning a stretch of three division games in four days, the Rangers came roaring from the gate and stormed their way to a 5-0 thumping of the Islanders at a rocking Madison Square Garden. The win was the Rangers' first shutout and largest margin of victory this season, and it moved them into a first-place tie atop the Metropolitan Division.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 29 shots he saw for his first career shutout, and what made it extra special for the 22-year-old rookie was that his parents were watching from the stands amid a Garden crowd that in the final minutes was chanting their son's name.

"It couldn't be better. Great time to get a shutout," Georgiev said after the game, having traded his goalmask for the Broadway Hat. "Great win for the boys against our rival team. Very happy and thankful for the team the way they played defense today.

Of his parents, Georgiev added: "I'm very thankful for them. It's a special moment that they were here to see my first shutout. I'm very happy."

The Rangers won for the seventh straight time on Garden ice - extending the League's longest streak this season - and for the ninth time in 11 games (9-1-1) since Oct. 30. In the process, they put an emphatic end to an eight-game skid against the Islanders while handing their rivals their first loss in eight Metropolitan Division games this season.

The Blueshirts scored three times in the game's first 8:04, and once in each period after that. Ten different Rangers finished the night with points, including multipoint games from Chris Kreider (his team-best 12th goal, plus an assist), Kevin Shattenkirk and Mika Zibanejad (two helpers each). Cody McLeod scored his first as a Ranger, Neal Pionk got one on a power play and Kevin Hayes scored to make it nine points in the last eight games as the Rangers put up a 5-spot on the Isles for the second time in seven days.

"Rarely do you get a game of that magnitude where you can win 5-nothing," David Quinn said. "To see these young kids play as well as they did - and our team in general. I loved how we came out."

Video: NYI@NYR: Chytil nets second chance to open scoring

It was Chytil who kickstarted the rout just 29 seconds in, becoming just the 20th teenager in NHL history to score in five straight games. And in another indication that things are going good, Chytil was trying to pass on the play - he had Hayes at the backdoor, but when Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock went to a knee to block the feed, it caromed right back to Chytil and he ripped it home.

It may have lacked the late-game drama of his winner against the Stars on Monday night, but it had every bit the electricity: As he and a charged-up Garden crowd celebrated, Chytil had a smile on his face as though not even he could believe how well it's going.

"Yes, it's exactly that feeling," he said afterward. "That was something special."

"When you're hot, you're hot," Hayes said. "It's a tough league to score goals in and he's doing it at will right now."

McLeod doubled the lead with a crafty downward tip of Tony DeAngelo's heave from the blue line (McLeod later left in the second period with a hand injury), on which Ryan Strome picked up the second assist and his first point as a Ranger. Pionk made it 3-0 with a power-play blast from the blue line.

Video: NYI@NYR: McLeod nets first Rangers goal on a tip

Hayes scored his fifth of the season in the second period off a dogged forecheck and a patient setup from Shattenkirk, who drew defenders to him before dropping the puck for Hayes to steer around Robin Lehner (22 saves). "I think if I shot that puck Haysie would have slashed my tires or something," Shattenkirk said. "He was screaming so loud."

Video: NYI@NYR: Hayes tucks slick backhander past Lehner

Georgiev, meanwhile, saw 11 pucks in the first period, five in the second and 13 in the third - and wiped all of them away to win his fourth consecutive start. The souvenir puck from his shutout will be going home with his parents, but as the clock neared zeroes in the third period, and the Garden faithful were chanting "Georgie!", the 22-year-old said the last thing he wanted to think about was the possibility of a shutout.

"I try to just push the thought away as much as possible, try to keep focused," he said. He tried to push away the credit to his teammates, too: "They jumped out straight from the gate, went hard, and it was so much easier to play when we were leading 3-0 than If it was a tie game. They played amazing. I think they deserved to win 5-0 today."

Video: NYI@NYR: Georgiev stops 29 to earn first NHL shutout

Quinn had originally planned to start Georgiev on Saturday against Florida, but over the course of the last week changed up the plan for his goalies, and he acknowledged the challenges that backup goaltenders face in staying as sharp as Georgiev has.

"It's not easy, boy. Very difficult to get into a rhythm," the coach said. "Practice is so important, and boy does he ever challenge practice like he would a game. I think that's what we love about him on top of what you see on the ice - his mental approach away from the rink is really at a mature level beyond his years.

"We certainly have a lot of faith in him. Our guys have the utmost confidence in him. And he's a heck of a kid."

The Rangers will continue this stretch of division games with the NHL Thanksgiving Showdown on Friday afternoon in Philadelphia; they return home Saturday afternoon to host the Washington Capitals.

"I think we need to realize that if we play like that night in and night out we're going to beat a lot of teams," Shattenkirk said. "It was just a great effort all around."

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