Sports

Will Cuylle rewarded for getting ‘at the net’ with game-tying Rangers goal


ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rangers were less than a half a period away from losing to the lowly Ducks and dropping their third straight game.

That was until Will Cuylle was rewarded in full for what he had been working for all game.

There was an apparent emphasis on getting bodies to the net for the Rangers on Sunday, and Cuylle had been battling hard in front of the blue crease all night.

Breaking free from a pin in the corner, the Rangers’ rookie then beat his man to the front of the net and got his stick on a Jacob Trouba shot to tie the game at two-all with 9:50 left in regulation.

“I think the past couple games, we hadn’t been getting good screens at the net and get F1 at the net,” Cuylle said, referring to the first forward to enter the offensive zone, after the Rangers’ comeback 5-2 win over the Ducks. “That was a big focus and I just tried to implement that as much as I could throughout the game.”


Will Cuylle scored the Rangers’ second goal in their win against the Ducks. AP

Just over four minutes later, there was Cuylle coming up clutch again, drawing a tripping penalty while cutting to the net.

The Rangers’ power play then promptly capitalized on the opportunity on a goal from Artemi Panarin to snag their first lead of the night.

The 21-year-old has been an imposing presence for the Rangers on a relatively consistent basis this season.

Aside from notching his eighth goal of the season on Sunday, Cuylle’s play can be directly correlated to the Rangers’ rally and their eventual victory.

“He was excellent all night,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of Cuylle. “He’s moving his feet, he’s physical, he’s around the net, he’s getting to the net. We haven’t had enough of that presence around the net, so it’s been a topic of conversation. He’s battling all the time to get in there. He’s willing to pay the price to get there.”


Will Cuylle celebrates with his Rangers teammates following his goal against the Ducks on Sunday.
Will Cuylle celebrates with his Rangers teammates following his goal against the Ducks on Sunday. AP

Erik Gustafsson returned to the lineup Sunday night against the Ducks after missing the previous game in Los Angeles with a lower-body injury.

As a result, defenseman Zac Jones was scratched for the 31st time in 46 games this season.

Additionally, Laviolette opted to reinsert Nick Bonino into the lineup after taking the 35-year-old forward out in favor of Tyler Pitlick.

Laviolette ultimately flip-flopped his decision, putting Bonino back in the middle of the fourth line between Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey.

Pitlick has now been scratched in nine of the last 10 games after a stretch of 26 contests from the beginning of November until this month.


The Rangers are scheduled to be off on Monday before they wrap up their trip with a matchup against the Sharks in San Jose on Tuesday night.

Once they return home, the Rangers will first face the Golden Knights again on Friday and then venture to Ottawa on Saturday for their final game before the All-Star break.



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