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Rangers dominate in Pittsburgh; Stepan and Nash with two goals

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers dominated the Penguins for their 15th win in their last 18 games, continuing their climb to the top of the Metropolitan Division. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (26-13-4) finished off their road trip strong, with a dominating 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-4) at the CONSOL Energy Arena. The Rangers scored 26 seconds into the game, and never gave up the lead.

The two points puts the Rangers in a tie for third place with the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan division with two games in hand. It also puts them just two games behind the Penguins, who have won just four games in their last 12.

The Rangers finished their season series with the Penguins with a 3-0-1 record, and are now 13-3-1 against Metropolitan Division foes. The Rangers have also won 15 of their last 18 games dating back to a 4-3 overtime victory against the Penguins.

The game started with a bang for the Rangers, with Rick Nash scoring just 26 seconds into the opening period. The Penguins Kris Letang mishandled a pass, and Rick Nash took the puck on a breakaway down the left wing, and firing a wrist shot past Fleury for his 27th goal of the season, which is more than Nash scored last season.

The Rangers doubled their lead at the 6:08 mark of the same period, with Derick Brassard scoring his 12th goal of the season. Kevin Klein’s slap shot took a strong bounce off of the boards, and Brassard found it first, flinging the puck past an unsuspecting Fleury. The assists went to Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Klein.

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Derick Brassard scored his 12th goal of the season in the first period, thanks in part to a fortuitous bounce off of the boards. Brassard is tied for second on the team with 35 points. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The Rangers killed off the Penguins first two power plays, but Pittsburgh would break through on their third power play chance, with the captain Sidney Crosby scoring his 15th goal of the season, giving him a total of 51 points (15-36-51). David Perron made a great pass to Crosby, who had an easy tap in to cut the Rangers lead in half.

In the second period, the Rangers wasted no time, scoring just 2:39 into the period, and it was Rick Nash scoring his second goal of the game. Brassard won the faceoff cleanly, and Nash backed up before getting the puck on net. His shot deflected off of Rob Scuderi’s stick and past Fleury, recapturing the Rangers two goal lead. Rick Nash’s 28th goal of the season puts him in sole possession of the NHL goal-scoring lead. Nash has 43 points (28-15-43) this season.

Just three minutes later, the Rangers would score on their third power play of the game. Martin St. Louis made a fantastic cross-ice pass to Derek Stepan, who fired a wrist shot past Fleury, who was screened by Chris Kreider. The assists went to Kreider and St. Louis, and Fleury was taken out of the game after allowing four goals on just 17 shots.

The next goal came early in the third period, with David Perron scoring his fifth goal in just six games as a Penguin, somehow splitting two defenders and sliding the puck through the legs of Lundqvist. It was Perron’s 10th goal of the season, and the Rangers lead was down to two goals.

The Rangers answered back quickly, with Derek Stepan scoring his second goal of the game to put New York up 5-2. The Rangers had a three on two, and after the puck bounced around a bit, Stepan wound up with it, shooting the puck past Thomas Greiss for his eighth of the season.

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Derek Stepan scored twice today against the Penguins, bringing his goal total to eight and giving him 31 points this season. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

St. Louis and Kreider both had assists on the playing, and they both finished with two each in the game. Kreider now has 23 points (9-14-23), and St. Louis is up to 35 (14-21-35) for the season.

Lundqvist had another strong game today, perhaps making his best save in the final period, using a quick glove to rob Perron of a second goal. Lundqvist finished with 32 saves, improving his record to 22-9-3 to go along with a 2.26 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

Since his return to the lineup, Derek Stepan has been lighting it up, and has really helped the Rangers improve in all aspects of their game, at even strength, and on both special team units. Stepan has 31 points (8-23-31) in just 30 games this season, and is one of the most important pieces of the Rangers team.

Rick Nash continues to show the league why he is an MVP Candidate. Nash now leads the league with 28 goals, and has a goal in 22 of his games this season, also leading the league in that Category. Nash is averaging a point-per-game with 43 points (28-15-43) this season, and is a leader on the ice. Nash plays on the power play and penalty kill, due to his strong defensive play. Nash is the MVP of the Rangers, and a certain Hart Trophy candidate.

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Rick Nash continues to assert his dominance on the ice, scoring twice to bring his goal total to 28 for this season, good enough for first in the league. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The Rangers last game before the All-Star Break will be this Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.

In other news, the Rangers finalized a six year deal with alternate captain Marc Staal which will pay him $5.7 million per season.

THREE STARS

1) Rick Nash – 2 G, 4 SOG +3, 17:54 TOT

2) Derek Stepan – 2 G, 4 SOG, 18:21 TOT

3) Derick Brassard – 1 G, 1 A, +3

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Posted on January 18, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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