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Rangers sweep California road trip with win over Sharks; Lundqvist earns 20th win

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers players 1-11

The Rangers swept their California road trip, winning 13 of their last 14 games before heading home to that the handlers.

The Rangers (24-11-4) continue to stay red hot, winning their fifth in a row against the San Jose Sharks (22-16-5) by a final score of 3-1, completing a remarkable sweep of three games in four nights against some of the best teams in the Western Conference. The Rangers have won 13 of their last 14 games dating back to December 8th.

This is the first time in franchise history that the Rangers have beaten the Ducks, the Kings and the Sharks on the road in the same season, as well as the first time that they have beaten those teams along with the Canucks, Oilers, and Flames on the road in the same season. That really goes to show how impressive the Rangers recent play has been.

The clear MVP for the Rangers tonight was the King, Henrik Lundqvist, who made some truly sensational saves against the Sharks, providing the backbone that the Rangers needed to win. Henrik Lundqvist won his 11th game in his last 12 played, and picked up his 20th win of the season. In his last 12 games, Lundqvist is 11-1-0 with a 1.57 goals allowed average and a .939 save percentage.

With the win, Henrik Lundqvist became the first goaltender in NHL History to win at least 20 games in their first 10 seasons played.

henrik lundqvist 11-13

Henrik Lundqvist was tremendous tonight, and was likely the biggest reason for the Rangers victory. Lundqvist made 30 saves en route to his 20th victory. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The game did not start out as the Rangers had hoped, with San Jose getting an early jump on the Blueshirts, and not allowing the Rangers to get a shot on goal until the 9:51 mark of the first period. San Jose was continuously pressuring the Blueshirts, but Lundqvist made some key saves early on to keep the game scoreless.

The Rangers managed to breakthrough first on just their second shot of the game, with Martin St. Louis scoring his 14th goal of the season. The faceoff was a tie, and Stepan, with some help from Sharks center Joe Thornton, pushed the puck towards the boards. However, Chris Kreider made a great play, one-handing the puck to St. Louis in front for a one timer, and giving the Rangers the lead.

martin st louis 11-1

Martin St. Louis continues to produce for the Rangers, scoring his 14th goal of the season against the Sharks to help extend their win streak to five. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Despite losing a majority of the facoffs, the Rangers managed to score again in the first period, after winning another offensive zone faceoff. Derek Stepan won the faceoff, Dan Girardi shot for a rebound, and Kreider tapped in the rebound, his eighth of the season, which gave the Rangers a two goal lead.

No scoring happened in the second period, but St. Louis came close again, tipping a puck behind Sharks goalie Anti Niemi and through the crease, but not over the goal line. Lundqvist was very strong in net, stopping all nine shots in the period, including back-to-back saves on Brent Burns and James Sheppard early.

It appeared that Zuccarello had scored on a backhand about five minutes into the period, and reviews appeared to show the puck had crossed the line, but it was not conclusive, and Anti Niemi made a phenomenal glove save to keep the score close.

The Sharks would get a power play opportunity shortly after that, and capitalized, with rookie defenseman Melker Karlsson putting in a rebound to cut the Rangers lead to one, as well as extend his goal streak to five games.

However, San Jose could not strike again, and Rick Nash ended the game with an impressive, hard-working empty net goal with just a minute remaining. Nash’s 26th goal of the season tied him for first in the NHL, and ended a strong night for the Rangers All Star.

On defense, Kevin Klein had a very strong game for New York both on and off the puck. Klein showed off his skating skills to create offense, his physicality along the boards, and his strong defensive play helped the Rangers give up just one board.

Kevin Klein away jersey

Kevin Klein has arguably been the Rangers most consistent player, and has become a legitimate scoring threat from the Rangers blue line. Klein has been a huge asset to the Blueshirts this season.

 

In his return, Dan Boyle was steady, playing more of a defensive game than usual. Boyle registered one shot on goal but played well in the Rangers zone, including a strong pokechecking play on Marc-Edouard Vlasic late in the third period.

Chris Kreider had one of his best games in a while, picking up a goal and an assist while playing superb on both sides of the puck. Kreider now has six multipoint games this season, and two in the last five games.

The Rangers will face the New York Islander (28-13-1) at home on Tuesday, in a huge Metropolitan Division matchup between two rivals.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 30 SV, .968 SV%

2) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 1 A, 3 HT

3) Derek Stepan – 2 A

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Posted on January 11, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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