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Fourth Line Leads the Way in Win Over Coyotes

Nieves, Buchnevich and Grabner combine for four goals, seven points

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Chemistry can take games to develop or never develop at all. Other times, like Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes, it's instantaneous.

The newly created fourth line of Boo Nieves, Pavel Buchnevich and Michael Grabner combined for four goals and seven points - including three assists from Nieves in just his second NHL game - as the Rangers topped the Coyotes, 5-2, at Madison Square Garden.

"I think we just meshed really well," Nieves said after the game. "Me, Grabner and Buchnevich. Grabner is a really fast player like me, so it's easy to keep up with him. A guy like Buchnevich can put the puck anywhere, so they made my transition here pretty easy."

Video: ARI@NYR: Buchnevich sneaks a wrist shot past Hill

The points the line produced will grab the headlines, but coach Alain Vigneault also praised the work the trio did defensively.

"There's no doubt that line played a real strong game for us," he said. "At both ends of the rink. They were dependable defensively. They had a lot of speed and that speed led to good opportunities."

With the Rangers ahead in the first period on a goal by Chris Kreider, Buchnevich fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle that found a hole through Adin Hill to double the lead with 4:03 left in the period.

Following a goal by Anthony Duclair that momentarily trimmed the lead back to one. Nieves tracked down a loose puck in the Coyotes' end and shoved a one-handed pass to Grabner in the slot who went backhand to forehand for the goal just 46 seconds after Duclair's.

"I had some chances before that that I missed," Grabner said of his goal, which Vigneault called a turning point in the contest. "Now, hopefully I can keep it going. It's nice to see them go in and try to build off that."

Video: ARI@NYR: Grabner finds the net with flashy wrist shot

Nieves again created offense when he picked off a Hill clearing attempt and fed a streaking Buchnevich who attempted a redirection but missed. Luckily, Buchnevich regained control after the puck caromed off the end boards and potted it into the empty net to put New York up by three.

Clayton Keller scored on the power play 3:52 into the third, but that was as close as Arizona would get. Grabner added his second into the empty-net at 19:24.

Video: ARI@NYR: Pavelec shuts down Domi's tip-in try

Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves for his first win as a Ranger. The netminder said he benefitted from a strong start by his teammates, though admitted there were some butterflies.

"I think it helped me a lot that we had a great start to the game and we were ready to play," he said. "They didn't have much in the first period so that helped me to get a little more comfortable. I think it's about how you practice and how you're getting ready for the games, but I would lie if I said I wasn't nervous. I didn't play for a while but it is what it is. Like I said so many times, my job is to be ready."

Nieves became the first rookie since Derek Stepan to score three points in one of his first two NHL games. Despite the strong showing, Nieves said he knows showings like this will be hard to replicate on a nightly basis, but he's up to the challenge.

"I don't think every game is going to be like this," he said with a laugh. "It's obviously the best league in the world and guys come to play every single night. Time will only tell."

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