Marc-Andre Fleury and Artemi Panarin chasing milestones when Blackhawks host Rangers

artemi panarin
Dec 4, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates with his teammates after scoring in third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks have alternated wins and losses over the past eight games, with five contests in that span decided by one goal.

After going winless in their first nine games to open the season, the Blackhawks have earned nine victories in their past 15, including seven by the slimmest of margins.

“We’re finding ways to win,” Chicago’s Brandon Hagel said. “We’re winning those 2-1, 3-2 games. That’s what we have to do when the puck’s not going in the net. Have to be happy with that. Hopefully, the pucks start going in, obviously.”

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Marc-Andre Fleury looking for win 500

Chicago will look to stay resilient against the visiting New York Rangers on Tuesday night after falling to the Rangers 3-2 on Saturday in New York.

While the Rangers have been idle since that night, the Blackhawks rebounded Sunday with a 3-2 shootout victory against the New York Islanders.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who got a breather on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, made 22 saves against the Islanders, including all three attempts against him in the shootout.

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Oct 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) takes the ice to warm up before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fleury stands one victory shy of 500 in his career, as he tries to join Martin Brodeur (691) and Patrick Roy (551) as the lone netminders to attain that milestone in the NHL. An offseason acquisition, Fleury has won six of his past eight starts while posting a 1.71 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

“He’s unbelievable,” the Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome said. “Vezina Trophy winner for a reason. Without him, we’re not in a lot of these games. He’s a heck of a goalie, probably Team Canada goalie I’d say. He’s unbelievable, great guy in the locker room, too. You hear about it, guys coming to your team and hear how great of a guy he is, and every word’s been true. One of the best teammates I’ve ever had, for sure.”

Artemi Panarin’s one point away from 500

The Rangers are bullish about their goalie, too. The club announced before Saturday’s game that Igor Shesterkin would go on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and miss at least the next three contests.

That vaulted Alexandar Georgiev to the starting role, and Georgiev responded with 25 saves against the Blackhawks in his first start since Nov. 21, helping the Rangers to their sixth straight victory.

Georgiev has stopped 34 of the 36 shots he has faced since relieving an injured Shesterkin on Friday night.

“I don’t really want to talk about the last two weeks,” Georgiev said. “Not much playing time and things haven’t gone the best, but at the same time I’m happy that I got a chance to play, happy that I got a chance to win games. That’s most important for us.”

Should Tuesday’s game evolve into another nail-biter, something will have to give.

New York has won six of its last seven games decided by one goal and is 8-1-3 in such games this season.

“I think [me and Ryan Strome] work together pretty good and there’s good energy in the locker room, off ice too,” said the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, who had a goal and two assists against his former team Saturday. “Good friends. We respect each other. Then Coach gives us confidence too.”

Panarin is chasing a milestone of his own as he sits just one point away from 500 career points. The fact that he could set it against the team he broke into the NHL with isn’t lost on him. However, he holds no ill will for them trading him.

“No – they trade me a long time ago,” Panarin said after the Rangers 3-2 win at the Garden. “Nice to see [Patrick Kane] and [Jonathan Toews] – fun game.”

–Field Level Media