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Rangers drop tough game in Nashville; Nash scores league leading 33rd goal

Bobby Bevilacqua

rick nash 1-31

Rick Nash opened the scoring for the Rangers again tonight, finding the back of the net for the 33rd time this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (30-16-4) played one of their best games in a loss today, falling to the Nashville Predators (34-12-6), improving their record at Bridgestone Arena to 21-3-1 this season, which is the best home record in the league.

The Rangers controlled play for most of the final two periods, but the Predators scored two goals in the final 1:21 of the second period, continuing to get contributions from their top defenseman in Shea Weber and Roman Josi.

Cam Talbot started in net for the Rangers with Lundqvist out, and played well, making 20 saves on 23 shots. Talbot couldn’t see two of the goals, and the defense did not do a great job covering the point men on rebound shots. In short, it was a decent game from Talbot, and he made some quality saves but could not get the result.

Rick Nash opened up the scoring for the Rangers for the fourth consecutive game, extending his goal streak to four games. Nash found the back of the net on the power play, which was his fifth power play goal of the season. It was also the first power play goal that the Predators have given up in seven games.

The Rangers were also without Derek Stepan, who was scratched with flu like symptoms. That clearly had an effect on the Rangers, but Vigneault said that he expects Stepan to play tomorrow.

The first period was very exciting, with both teams playing an up-tempo style of play. However, it was also a well defended period, with both teams protecting their goaltender. No goals were scored, due to a combination of quality goaltending.

Nashville nearly scored a few times in the period. Mike Ribeiro was robbed point blank by Talbot, and then they nearly scored on scramble in front, but Talbot managed to get a piece of the puck, and Kevin Klein made a great play to knock the puck out of midair before it crossed the goal line. Filip Forsberg also shot a puck off of the pipe, but Nashville was not able to score.

cam talbot vs nashville

Cam Talbot made some big saves against the Predators, but was beaten by three powerful slap shots and came away with a loss. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

The second period was slower paced, with both teams trying to close down the gaps and limit the other team’s chances, which worked for a period of time.

The Rangers would eventually break through first on the power play, just their fourth power play goals in the last 12 games. Derick Brassard held the puck, waiting for Nash to get into position in front of the net. Brassard hit him with a great pass, and Nash’s initial backhand was stopped, but his rebound found the back of the net, giving the Rangers a one goal lead. Kevin Hayes had the other assist.

Later in the period, Jesper Fast was checked into the boards, and headed to the locker room while stretching out his knee. Later on the team announced he sprained his right knee, and didn’t return to the game. He will likely miss tomorrow’s game against the Stars.

The Predators were limited in their chances, but broke through twice in the late stages of the second period. The Predators led the league in points from defensemen heading into this game, and that trend continued, with Shea Weber and Roman Josi scoring for Nashville.

Josi scored his 10th of the season in the Preds first goal. Talbot made a save or two, but the puck bounced out to Josi, and his slapshot beat Talbot top shelf to tie the game at one.

Weber scored 42 seconds later, with Josi sending the puck around the boards. It took a lucky bounce right to the captain of the Predators, and his 108 mph slap shot found the back of the net, and Nashville suddenly had a two goal lead.

The Rangers set the tone early in the third period, and it was the captain Ryan McDonagh firing a wrist shot for his first goal in 14 games, and his fourth of the season. Mats Zuccarello hit McDonagh with a pass at the blue line, and the captain made a great move to deke past Roman Josi before firing a wrist shot past Rinne, tying the game at 1:37 of the third period. Brassard picked up a second assist on the play.

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Ryan McDonagh scored a beautiful goal, his fourth of the season, to tie the game up at two early in the third period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

McDonagh was the 10th Ranger to score a goal in the last four days, demonstrating the depth scoring that they have been experiencing lately.

Mats Zuccarello also extended his assist streak to four games, which is the longest by any Ranger this season. “Zukes” now has 28 points (8-20-28) this season.

The Rangers would get multiple chances in the period, but could not convert. Mats Zuccarello got the puck on a breakaway, but elected to pass instead of going on the backhand. Zukes and Brassard also had a 2-on-1 opportunity, but Brassards shot was wide from in close.

With the Rangers not able to finish, the Predators were able to climb ahead yet again, and it was Mike Ribeiro scoring the go ahead goal past a screened Talbot for his 11th goal of the season, and his 700th career NHL point.

The Rangers would pull Cam Talbot, but could not score, and dropped a heartbreaker despite playing very well against one of the best teams in the NHL.

One thing that bothered me was the laziness in the game. On all three Predators goals, the goal scorer was wide open with tons of space to shoot, leading to accurate shots. On the game winner, Tanner Glass was way behind the play, hardly skating and leaving Ribeiro wide open. Glass continues to add nothing to this team, and is not a -15 on the year, having been on the ice for one Rangers goal in 37 games.

With Stepan out, Kevin Hayes centered Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis on the top line, and had a fantastic game. Hayes set up multiple chances, was strong on the forecheck and in the neutral zone, and had a solid game overall.

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Kevin Hayes had a very strong game, picking up an assist and doing a good job centering the top line. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Derick Brassard had two assists in the game, giving him 39 points (13-26-39) this season. One of them was on the power play, and leads the team with 15 power play points. Over the last 26 games, Brassard has a total of 22 points (7-15-22) in that span, continuing a very strong season.

One player who needs to step up is Martin St. Louis. The 39 year old veteran had a hot start to the year, but has not scored since January 10th against the San Jose Sharks. St. Louis is one of the guys who is expected to be a big time goal scorer on this team, and needs to start finishing on more of his chances.

And yet again, Rick Nash continues to be the backbone of this team. With 33 goals and 49 points, Nash deserves recognition as an MVP Candidate, and has certainly been the MVP of the Rangers this season.

The Rangers will take on the Dallas Stars tomorrow evening at Madison Square Garden. With Jesper Fast likely out of the lineup, Vigneault may want to call up a reserve from the AHL, unless Stepan is definitely back and Miller would play on the wing.

No goalie has been confirmed, but with Talbot well rested and Skapski unproven, Vigneault might stick with Talbot in net for tomorrow.

THREE STARS

1) Rick Nash – 1 G, 5 SOG, 20:05 TOT

2) Derick Brassard – 2 A, 20:00 TOT, 15/22 Faceoffs

3) Ryan McDonagh – 1 G, 2 BS, 22:33 TOT

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Posted on February 8, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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