The hit came back, and so did the smile.
Kaapo Kakko's grin was ear to ear on Sunday night after scoring his first goal in over a month, which emerged as the winner of the Rangers' 4-1 victory over the Kings at the Garden.
"[It felt] so good after so long, ”said Kakko. “Hopefully there will be many more goals. It helps so much. "
The Rangers' # 2 selection had completed 13 consecutive games without a goal, the last one taking place on January 2 in Calgary. But he was in the right place in the middle of the third half on Sunday evening to receive a return pass from Filip Chytil, which Kakko closed with a 1-0 win over the Rangers.
"It was a good fight from Philly [Di Giuseppe] in the corner against two boys, ”said Chytil. "The puck comes to me and I saw Kaapo in front of the net, so I just passed it between the D's legs and he hit. It was a nice target."
Kakko had started the game against the Sabers in the fourth row on Friday before making his way into the row at the end of the night. On Sunday, the 18-year-old had another strong game in the third row with Chytil and Di Giuseppe.
"He'll smile more," said coach David Quinn. "He has a little bit [Pavel] Buchnevich in this regard in him. I only like the fact that he goes online. The support he received last night was on the Internet. He has been on the web several times. He gets a goal to be on the net. He only plays with more speed and self-confidence. He has been much better on the defensive in recent games. He played well. "
Di Giuseppe collected his first points in a Rangers uniform and noted two assists while scoring six goals in 11:41. It was his fourth consecutive game in the lineup since he was called up by AHL Hartford.
"I just like its speed. I like its purpose. I like his intentions, ”said Quinn. "He was physical. He certainly gave us some energy.
“I really liked Di Giuseppe, Chytil and Kakko. You played really well tonight. "
Alexandar Georgiev was a healthy scratch, and Henrik Lundqvist supported Igor Shesterkin. Brendan Smith also looked out of the press box for the third game in a row. … The Rangers have improved to 17: 6-0 in their last 23 games, which were played immediately after losing rules or overtime.