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Rangers prevail over Calgary despite absence of Rick Nash; Talbot earns the shutout

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers congratulate Cam Talbot on his fourth shutout of the season, a complete effort against the Calgary Flames. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (37-16-6) put forth a very strong effort against the Calgary Flames (32-24-4), battling for a 1-0 shutout and extending their point streak to eight games (7-0-1), keeping them in second place in the Metropolitan Division, and just two points behind the Islanders. The Rangers are 8-1-2 since Lundqvist has been out.

Earlier this afternoon, the Rangers announced that they were dealing with some flu like symptoms, but it came as a surprise when it was announced that Rick Nash would be a scratch due to neck spasms. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

With the lineup change, the Rangers recalled 23 year old Oscar Lindberg from the Hartford Wolf Pack to center the third line, and Kevin Hayes, a natural winger, was moved up to the top line to slide into Nash’s spot. It was Lindberg’s first NHL game, and in the limited ice time that he saw, he played well.

Cam Talbot didn’t face a ton of shots in the game, but made some crucial saves and picked up his 11th win of the season, as well as his fourth shutout of the season. It is the first time that multiple Rangers goalies have recorded at least four shutouts since 1970, when Eddie Giacomin and Giles Villemure accomplished the feat. Talbot is just the second Ranger to record seven shutouts in his first 38 decisions.

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Cam Talbot had a very strong performance tonight against Calgary, stopping all 21 shots that he faced en route to his 7th win since taking over the starter role. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Kevin Hayes took advantage of the opportunity on the top line, playing for nearly 19 minutes and scoring the Rangers only goal in the third period. Hayes had a fantastic game, playing extremely well on both ends of the ice, and scoring a crucial goal. Hayes now has 27 points (12-15-27) in his promising rookie campaign.

The Rangers started out the first period really well, outskating and outpacing the Flames. They would get an early power play opportunity, and nearly scored on the man advantage. Kevin Hayes deflected a slap shot that went off of the post, and left a wide open net for JT Miler. Somehow, Karri Ramo made a spectacular lunging glove save on Miller’s rebound opportunity to keep the Rangers off the board.

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Karri Ramo made a fantastic lunging save early in the first period to rob JT Miller, stopping the Rangers best scoring chance in the first two periods. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The shots kept coming from New York, but Calgary did a great job blocking shots and disrupting the shooting lanes. The Rangers would finish the period with 10 shots on goal, but had another 11 blocked. Calgary was on defense for the early part of the period, but picked up their play late, putting pressure on Talbot and the Rangers.

The second period was the same story, with both teams exchanging some chances, and the Rangers getting the higher quality scoring opportunities. The team defense and goaltending on both sides was very strong throughout the game.

Early in the third period the Rangers finally broke through, and it was Kevin Hayes continuing his hot streak, scoring his fifth goal in the last eight games. Ryan McDonagh’s long pass was deflected into the zone and controlled by a Calgary defender after a long shift. Derick Brassard came into the zone on the forecheck, and worked the puck away from Dennis WIdeman. Brass made a quick pass over to Kevin Hayes off of the bench, and he didn’t hesitate on the shot, beating Ramo and giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

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Kevin Hayes celebrates after scoring his 12th goal of the season, and the game winner against the Flames. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

“Brass had a great forechack, great stick, made a great pass” said Hayes following the win. “He basically did everything and I just got to finish it off.”

With the assist, Brassard has now set a new career high in points, currently sitting at second place on the team with 48 points (13-35-48). With Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard, the Rangers have one of the best top two center duos in the league, recording what seems like a point per game every night.

The Rangers survived a late Calgary surge, but Talbot stood tall in net, and the Rangers eventually skated away with a 1-0 win thanks to Talbot’s 21 save effort. It was the team’s third consecutive win, their eighth straight game earning a point. The Rangers are also 26-6-2 since December 8th.

This was the complete effort that the Rangers were looking for, and they did a great job tightening up their defense, minimizing turnovers and giveaways, and playing “one of the most complete games we’ve played all year,” according to Cam Talbot.

This may have been Talbot’s best performance since assuming the starter role, up there with his one goal performance against the Arizona Coyotes. Talbot looked like the calm player we have seen so often, and was sharp despite having long gaps in the shots faced. Despite the criticism over his goals allowed as a starter, Talbot has done a great job while thrust into sudden role, and has seven wins as a starter.

Kevin Hayes continues to grow as a player every night. He’s playing really smart hockey, playing very strong defensively, and is starting to find his scoring touch. Hayes’ size and reach makes him an excellent possession player, and he just doesn’t seem to make many mistakes when on the ice. Hayes is nearing the 30 point mark, which would be a nice achievement for his first season, and he will be a valuable depth player down the road for the Rangers.

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Kevin Hayes, sporting a new hairdo, had a great game, scoring his fifth goal in eight games, and doing a great job as the top line winger. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Although Lindberg only played 8:18, he played well, especially due to the fact that he was a last minute call up. The line of Hagelin, Lindberg and Miller were on the ice for no scoring chances against, speaking to the defensive play of the trio, and Lindberg had two shots on goal, including nearly scoring on a stuff in attempt. He threw the body well, tallying three hits, and played a pretty decent game for the situation he was in.

This goes largely unnoticed, but the fourth line has been playing their best hockey of the season in the last five to eight games. Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore, and Lee Stempniak have begun to create a lot more sustained, offensive forechecking shifts that lead to icings and scoring opportunities. For as much criticism as he gets, Tanner Glass has also stepped his game up, finally playing the role he was expected to play. This trio will be rewarded for their efforts with a goal in the coming games.

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The Rangers fourth line has been great lately, and had another strong game tonight. They continue to sustain offensive pressure, forecheck, and improve. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

I also thought that Matt Hunwick had a strong game after being reinserted for John Moore. He looked a lot more aggressive, joining the rush, and played pretty well.

The Rangers next game will be on Thursday at Madison Square Garden for the final game of their three game home stand, and they will take on the Arizona Coyotes, who have lost their last seven games.

THREE STARS

1) Kevin Hayes – 1 G, 2 TK, 18:33 TOT

2) Cam Talbot – 21 SV, 1.000 SV %

3) Derick Brassard – 1 A, 2 SOG

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Posted on February 25, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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