Rangers welcome Blues and Pavel Buchnevich

As Pavel Buchnevich returns to New York for the surging St. Louis Blues, Rangers are focused on avoiding a third straight loss Wednesday night.

The Rangers traded Buchnevich last July to save space on the salary cap before he became a restricted free agent. In return, they got Sammy Blais cost control and a second-round draft pick in a trade hugely unpopular with Rangers fans. Buchnevich was dealt after playing for five seasons in New York and last season scoring a career-high 48 points.

Buchnevich immediately signed a four-year contract with the Blues and has 46 points in 46 games with St. Louis.

“Playing with him was a lot of fun,” Rangers veteran Mika Zibanejad told reporters during training on Tuesday. “Lots of great memories, lots of laughs. Gonna be good to see him.”

What hasn’t been good for Rangers is a lack of attack lately. Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafrenière scored third period goals in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Sunday’s loss followed a 1-0 loss Saturday at Pittsburgh to cap a frustrating weekend when the Rangers totaled 60 shots on goal, went 0-5 on the power play and saw 31 blocked shots.

Since returning from a two-week break, Rangers are 3-2-1 in six games and have scored two goals or less in five of those games. Chris Kreider took eight shots on goal on Sunday and scored once from the break while Artemi Panarin netted once from the break.

“We have to try to produce more,” Strome said. “I think there are a bunch of guys who are maybe sticking a little tight. We’re still in a lot of hockey games and we’re playing good hockey as a team, I think. But obviously scoring goals is what we have to do.”

While Blais is out for the season with a torn ACL suffered in November, Buchnevich is having a career season. His 46 points are tied for second on the team with Vladimir Tarasenko and three behind Jordan Kyrou, who scored in a 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues began their four-game journey by extending their winning streak to four games, one behind their season-high five-game streak to start the season. St. Louis scored 19 times during the streak, with Buchnevich notching three of those goals. He scored the second goal in a three-goal second period on Sunday to earn him the postgame “helmet” of Brayden Schenn, who also dubbed Buchnevich “the mayor of New York.”

Sunday’s win also gave St. Louis one point in seven straight games (6-0-1) since a 7-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 10. The Blues have scored 31 times in that span and have netted at least three. goals in nine of their last 12 games.

“I think we can keep improving,” St. Louis left-winger David Perron said. “We still have a long way to go. As we get to those tighter games that we’ve been talking about for the last two weeks, I still think we can get better, much better.”

The teams are meeting for the first time since Jordan Binnington made 25 saves in a 3-1 win for the Blues on March 3, 2020. They will meet in St. Louis on March 10.

–Field-Level Media

Copyright 2022 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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