The New York Rangers aren’t likely to catch the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division, and even if they were, Friday seemed like it was sure to be a tough game as the Rangers were without starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Little did New York know, though, that backup Antti Raanta would make an incredible game-saving stop when it mattered most.
With the Rangers leading 3-2 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Capitals’ top line of Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin were pressuring New York when Oshie worked his way towards the goal and patiently held the puck to force Raanta out of position. Oshie swung around the goal and threw a pass out front, which deflected off of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, then off of Ryan McDonagh and skittered perilously towards the goal. That’s when Raanta made magic:
Raanta’s miraculous stretching, diving stop was one of 11 saves he made in the third frame, but easily the biggest stop he was forced to make.
Even though some would have loved to see Lundqvist take the net against the Capitals, it shoudn’t be incredibly surprising how well Raanta performed. The 26-year-old netminder has won each of his past three starts and has posted a .950 save percentage in his four appearances since Feb. 18. Raanta now has a 7-4-2 record, 2.30 goals-against average and .915 SP to go along with one shutout this season.