Rangers offense awakens in win over Hurricanes; Lundqvist Spectacular
The Rangers (28-15-4) managed to avoid their first three-game losing since November, overcoming sloppy play early to snatch a win over the Carolina Hurricanes (17-26-6) by a score of 4-1 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers overcame an injury scare early in the second, when Henrik Lundqvist took a puck to the throat, and remained writhing in pain on the ice for minutes. After a few minutes of silence, with some “HEN-RIK” chants from the Blueshirt faithful, Lundqvist stood up, put the mask on and remained in the game, a testament to his competitiveness and toughness. Lundqvist was clearly the star in the game, stopping 31 shots, including all 15 he faced in the first period.
Alain Vigneault also shook up the lines prior to the game, reinserting JT Miller into the lineup for Lee Stempniak, and having him skate on the top line alongside Rick Nash and Derick Brassard. Mats Zuccarello was moved down, starting alongside Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin on the third line. But the lines would not remain, with Vigneault putting them into the blender and spitting out multiple combinations throughout the game.
The first period was very sloppy for the Rangers, with the team struggling to sustain offensive pressure, and missing on the first past from defensemen out of the zone. However, they managed to score two quick goals, and headed into the locker room up by those two goals.
Rick Nash opened the scoring for the Rangers, ending a brief three game goal drought, tying Washingtons’ Alexander Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 29. Nash intercepted a pass from Andrej Sekera in the neutral zone before carrying the puck to the left wing, and firing a wrist shot past Cam Ward 6:30 into the first period.
At 9:13 in the same period, Rick Nash took a tripping penalty, giving Carolina their first power play opportunity of the game. However, it was the Rangers who came away with a goal, with Dominic Moore scoring shorthanded for his fourth of the season.
Following a string of three or four saves from Lundqvist, Dom Moore collected the puck near the boards and skated down the left wing. Moore made a fantastic move to put the puck between the legs of Justin Faulk, and heading for the net, ultimately sliding the puck through the legs of Ward and finishing off one of the nicest goals for the Rangers this season.
Lundqvist would again bail the Rangers out towards the end of the first period, making numerous saves on a flurry of shots with time expiring. He also opened the second period with a fantastic save on Andrej Nestrasil, getting a toe on his shot to keep the Hurricanes off the board.
Around three minutes into the second period, during a battle in front of the net, Ryan McDonagh inadvertently lifted Henrik Lundqvist’s mask as a shot came at him, with the puck hitting Lundqvist directly in the throat. He immediately went down, writhing in pain and remaining on the ice for a few minutes. But like the fearless leader he is, he got up, put on his mask and remained in the game.
A few minutes following the scare, the Hurricanes got on the board, with Brad Malone scoring his fourth goal of the season on a deflection, cutting the lead in half.
That Rangers continued to struggle to sustain pressure for the first half of the period, with much of the same struggles in the first period. However, following some more line changes, the Rangers offense clicked in the last seven minutes and would eventually total 13 shots, most of them coming in the latter half of the period.
Vigneault had Derick Brassard centering Carl Hagelin and Jesper Fast, put Nash on a line with Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis, Kevin Hayes centering Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, and JT Miller alongside Dominic Moore and Tanner Glass.
New York carried that momentum into the final period, and would score two goals to seal the victory after rallying around Henrik Lundqvist.
One of the lines that Vigneault used in the last period consisted of Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Mats Zuccarello. That line would score the third goal of the game, with the two Boston College products connecting. Kevin Hayes made a fantastic pass right on the tape of Kreider’s stick, who buried it to put it past Ward for the third goal of the game.
Just 21 seconds later, Dan Boyle blasted a slap shot from the point for his fifth goal of the season, and the Rangers fourth goal of the game. Carl Hagelin and Jesper Fast picked up the assists.
The Rangers were very strong in the third, playing much better and finishing the period with 16 shots on goal, and a total of 37 in the game.
This was a much needed win for the Rangers, who had scored just one goal in the last two games following the All Star Break. They battled back, and Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular, keeping the Rangers ahead even when they were playing very sloppy.
Dan Boyle’s goal in the third period marked the first Rangers goal by a defenseman since their 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 16th. Boyle had been struggling lately, so his fifth goal of the season might bring some confidence back into his game. Boyle has been struggling defensively lately, dropping to the third pairing, but played better today, getting his stick in the passing and shooting lane a few times and playing a steady defensive game overall.
Rick Nash continues to come through for the Rangers in key moments, scoring his 29th goal of the season to end the Rangers goal drought. Nash has been the MVP of the team this season, and stepped up again tonight.
Chris Kreider also had a fantastic game tonight, continuing his strong play as of late. Kreider has 10 points (6-4-10) over the last 13 games, and is fifth on the team in scoring with a total of 25 points (11-14-25) this year. Kreider finished the game with four shots on goal, two hits, and four takeaways.
Henrik Lundqvist continues to lead this team with his tremendous play and fearless leadership on the ice. Even after taking a puck to the throat, Lundqvist showed his dedication to the team and his fearlessness, remaining in the game and making 31 saves, putting forth yet another tremendous performance for his 24th win of the season, improving his goals allowed average to 2.23 and his save percentage to .922 for the season.
Lundqvist stood on his head in the first period when the team was outshot 15-8, and did the same in the final two frames, making some very tough saves throughout the game, and was a large part for the Rangers win tonight.
Many “fans” gave Lundqvist flak on Thursday when he allowed just one goal against the Montreal Canadiens, saying he was the sole reason for the loss. However, the Rangers showed that when you score goals, you win games, something that the team has struggled to do before tonight’s game.
Lundqvist stayed in the game despite a terrifying situation, and showed his dedication, his toughness, and proved that he is the definition of a Rangers, as well as the heart and soul of this team.
The Rangers will look to keep on rolling on Monday when they take on the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.
1) Henrik Lundqvist – 31 SV, .969 SV%
2) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 2 HT, 4 TK
3) Dominic Moore – 1 G, 12:22 TOT
Posted on February 1, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged Alain Vigneault, Anthony Duclair, Cam Talbot, Cam Ward, Carey Price, Carl Hagelin, Carolina Hurricanes, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, Jesper Fast, John Moore, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Lee Stempniak, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, Montreal Canadiens, MSG, MSL, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NHL All Star Game, NY Rangers, NYR, PK Subban, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.