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CHICAGO: The last time they faced the Blackhawks, the Rangers were at their lowest point of the season.

It’s only been two weeks since then, and a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the last-place Hawks on Dec. 3 feels like a bad dream. The Rangers finally dismantled the inspirational Chicago team they were always supposed to be with a 7-1 victory at the United Center on Sunday night, their seventh straight victory, signaling that the club has officially entered full turnaround mode.

“A little bit more confidence, a little bit more confidence in our game, I think we know what we’re capable of,” Jacob Truba said of the difference in blue jerseys between the two games. “If we play the game we play, our style, just turn them around, we know what a good team we can be.”

The Blackhawks have not won since their first meeting with the Rangers. If not for that win at the Garden, Chicago would now have a 16-game losing streak after losing their 10th straight at home on Sunday. The Blueshirts may have needed this one to keep their winning streak alive, but more to prove they’re in a different class than the struggling Hawks.

Rangers center Artemi Panarin celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks.
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And they did, right from the jump.

This game was in Rangers’ pocket after a first half in which they took a 3-0 lead. Two of the three goals came as a result of beautiful passes from the Kids Line, with Filip Chytil opening the scoring and Kaapo Kakko ending the period just before the first break for both teams. Adam Fox completed the first of his three passes with a no-look pass to fullback Artemi Panarin, who buried it between the periods to make it 2-0 that broke the youngster’s scoring record.

Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers reacts after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks.
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Fox was dazzling from start to finish in his seventh multi-point game of the season, his third with three or more points. No one has been more consistent for the Rangers this season than the 24-year-old blueliner, whose 34 games since 2019-20 are tied for second in the NHL with multiple assists over that span.

After a key moment on Chytil’s goal and his ice-vision magic on Panarin’s goal, Fox sent a shot that Vincent Trocheck made perfectly for the Rangers’ first and only power play at the 5 late in the second period. 1 lead. The Rangers are 7-0-0 when Fox scores multiple runs.

Even after losing Chytil in the second period, the Rangers kept coming every time the Blackhawks even gained some momentum. The final 20 minutes were no different as the visitors added two more from Vitaly Kravtsov and Braden Schneider.

Truba had the pleasure of picking it up later midway through the middle frame when he took a dribble pass from Mika Zibanejad past Chicago netminder Arvid Soderblom to give the Rangers a three-goal cushion.

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The scoreboard wasn’t the only thing the Rangers captain was collecting on. Trouba, with a genuine smile on his face, called over Blackhawks forward Andreas Athanasiou and beckoned.

Athanasiou made some characterful comments about Trouba during the last meeting between these teams. Perhaps the most unique part of this whole saga is the fact that the 28-year-old Athanasiou took a shot at Truba’s contract. In that game two weeks ago, Truba knocked him in the back with a huge open-ice hit. He had more to say after that one, too.

“If he wants it, he can have it,” Truba said with a smile after the game.

Truba and the Rangers ended up getting the last word.



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