Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere answers first-career scratch with beauty of a goal

Alexis Lafreniere carried the puck into the middle of the offensive zone, the place Detroit’s top-line heart Dylan Larkin posted as much as clog the lane, however the 2020 first-overall choose evaded the protection with a slick between-the-legs transfer earlier than backhanding it house to cap the scoring within the Rangers’ 4-0 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday afternoon.

The sequence had the Madison Square Garden crowd on its ft in a celebration that felt as if it may’ve blown the pinwheel ceiling broad open.

That half was enjoyable, Lafreniere stated, however making a notable influence on his first sport again after serving as a wholesome scratch in Philadelphia on Wednesday clearly meant extra.

“It was fine, [head coach Gerard Gallant] just told me that he wanted to rest me,” stated Lafreniere, who scored twice within the win to snap an eight-game level drought. “I wasn’t playing my best hockey, too, the last couple games before today. It was fine, I got to rest a little bit and feel good.”

Lafreniere was a wholesome scratch for the primary time in his NHL career within the Rangers’ win over the Flyers earlier within the week, however Gallant maintained that it was to present the 20-year-old winger a relaxation and never as a consequence of poor play. Gallant insisted Lafreniere could be again within the lineup the next sport.

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But the new-look third line of Barclay Goodrow, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko performed effectively collectively, so Gallant put Lafreniere on the fourth unit with Kevin Rooney and Dryden Hunt to begin Saturday afternoon. When Kakko went down with a lower-body harm early within the first, nevertheless, Lafreniere took some shifts on the third line and recorded the primary multi-goal sport of his career.

“Just play my game,” Lafreniere stated of how he approached his return to the lineup. “That’s what I want to do. Play with confidence, try to make plays and try to be responsible, too, in our zone. Feel the puck a little bit and make a couple of plays and after just play.”

Alexis Lafreniere
Alexis Lafreniere celebrates his second goal of the night time.
Jason Szenes for The Post

Lafreniere stated he thought it was helpful to take a sport off and watch from the press field. It definitely seemed as if Lafreniere was refreshed and reset, which finally resulted within the prettiest goal of younger NHL career.

“One of those where you kind of just tip your hat, what a goal,” Frank Vatrano stated. “I kind of had a front-row seat to it, so it was pretty special. Special goal. Great player, huge game from him.”

Fourth-liner Ryan Reaves was scratched for the primary time in three video games, in favor of Lafreniere. … Defenseman Patrik Nemeth returned to the lineup after being scratched within the final three. He changed Justin Braun on the third pair, subsequent to rookie Braden Schneider.

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