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Rangers comeback for OT win over Blue Jackets; Stepan with a three point night

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Derek Stepan celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in the in against the Blue Jackets, scoring the tying goal late in the third as well as the overtime winner. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

In one of the most exciting games of the year, the Rangers (51-21-7) scored late in the third period before Derek Stepan scored the game winner in overtime to snap the Blue Jackets (39-35-5) nine game win streak, and extending their own win steak.

With the win, the Rangers secured their 51st win of the season, and their 109th point of the season. That puts them just one point shy of clinching the Eastern Conference title, and two points shy of the President’s Trophy, which would secure home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. They also moved two points ahead of the idle Anaheim Ducks for sole possession of the first place spot in the NHL.

New York’s current total of 109 points is tied for the second highest in franchise history. One more win would tie the franchise record in wins, 52 set in the 1993-94 season, and three points would tie the franchise record in points of 112, also set in the 1993-94 season, the year that they want the cup.

This is also the first time in franchise history that the Rangers have won 25 games on the road and at home, a testament to their ability to succeed wherever they play.

Despite the 4-3 score, this was a goaltender battle between Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky. Both goalies made some spectacular saves throughout the game and at key moments to make the game very exciting. Lundqvist finished with 29 saves, and Bobrovsky stopped 38 of the 42 shots that he faced.

Before the game even started, the Rangers presented the 2015 Steven McDonald award for Extra Effort, given to the Ranger player “that goes above and beyond the call of duty.” Talbot was deserving of the award, as he stepped in and practically saved the season during Henrik Lundqvist’s absence. In the 25 games that Lundqvist missed, Talbot went 16-4-3 in 23 of those games, recording two separate four game win streaks, and never losing two games in regulation in a row.

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Cam Talbot toke home the Steven McDonald extra effort award for his play during the absence of Lundqivst, an award that he truly deserves. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers started out with a quick goal, and it was Martin St. Louis scoring his 21st goal of the season, and his first since returning from his knee injury. Kevin Hayes started the play, backchecking to make a nice defensive play and then taking the loose puck to start the rush. Hayes tried to toe-drag past a defenseman, but lost control of it before taking a hit from Dalton Prout. That opened up some space for St. Louis to come in and blast a one timer past Bobrovsky for the goal, giving New York and early 1-0 lead.

With the assist, Kevin Hayes brought his point total up to 40 points (15-25-40) in his rookie campaign. Hayes becomes just the fourth Rangers rookie since 2005-06 to reach the 40 point mark.

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Martin St. Louis celebrates after opening up the scoring in the first period, which was his first goal since returning from his knee injury. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Then Columbus began to pressure, forcing Lundqvist to make two big pad saves on Artem Anisimov and Dalton Prout. The Rangers would wind up taking two penalties, which swung momentum back in favor of the Blue Jackets.

All of that pressure would eventually lead to a late goal from Columbus after a Rangers turnover. McDonagh held onto the puck in his own zone, but had it worked away from him by Matt Calvert. Jeremy Morin carried it towards Lundqvist, and passed it behind a sprawled out Henrik right to Calvert for a tap in, and a tie game late in the period.

The Rangers gathered themselves after the late goal in the first, opening the second period with a bang, scoring just 36 seconds into the period. It all started with JT Miller using his size to control possession along the boards. Miller dropped the puck off to Kreider, and he circled before passing it off to Stepan. Stepan wasted no time, finding the stick of Dan Girardi for an open wrist shot, which he buried for his fourth goal of the season. It was Girardi’s first goal in 16 games.

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Dan Girardi scored his fourth goal of the season, finishing off a great passing play and recapturing the Rangers one goal lead. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers were dominating possession early on this period, forcing the Blue Jackets to just quickly get rid of the puck. They had a few chances on the power play, but could not convert on the man advantage despite some really good chances.

Henrik Lundqvist made two of his biggest saves this period, just a few of the fantastic saves he made throughout the game. Lundqvist made a sprawling left pad save on Goloubef out of the penalty box, and then gloving a wrist shot from Ryan Johansen on a breakaway.

But eventually all of Columbus’ pressure was too much to handle, and Marko Dano was able to sneak one past Lundqvist and tie the game at two. Lundqvist made a really nice stop up high on Artem Anisimov, but the rebound dropped straight down to an uncovered Dano for an easy tap in.

The third period was a back and forth battle, with Columbus relentless on the forecheck in an attempt to extend their win streak. The Rangers had another power play opportunity, and Keith Yandle rang a shot off of the post.

The Blue Jackets took their first lead of the game 8:14 into the third period, and it was the former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky giving Columbus a 3-2 lead. Nick Foligno carried the puck into the Rangers zone, before splitting two Ranger defenders with a pass to Dubinsky, who shot it five hole on Lundqvist for his 12th goal of the season.

New York began to pressure late in the period with about five minutes remaining. Bobrovsky made some fantastic saves late in the game, denying Mats Zuccarello’s backhand shot. After the Rangers pulled Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi had a chance with less than a minute remaining, attempting a wrist shot from a through the legs pass from Derick Brassard, but Bobrovsky somehow managed to stretch out his left pad to keep the shot out of the net, leaving Girardi in disbelief.

When it seemed like Bobrovsky was going to stop everything, Derek Stepan was the savior, tying the game with just 27.5 seconds remaining in regulation. After some good puck movement at the top with six skaters on the ice, Ryan McDonagh fired a shot that was deflected by JT Miller, hitting Kreider in the chest. Kreider made a fantastic pass to Stepan open at the side of the net, and his shot beat Bobrovsky to tie the game late, and eventually send it into overtime.

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Derek Stepan scored with the Rangers net empty, finding the back of the net with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The overtime period was thrilling, with tons of chances for both teams. Lundqvist made another spectacular save, transitioning from side-to-side to stone Jack Johnson on a shot in close.

With under a minute remaining, Derek Stepan intercepted a pass in the offensive zone, circling and passing the puck off to Keith Yandle. Yandle fired a shot on net, and Bobrovsky left a big rebound, and Chris Kreider did a fantastic job of tying up Justin Falk and leaving the puck for Stepan. He collected it, and shot through Bobrovsky’s legs, capping off a wild comeback win with his 16th goal of the season, and his second of the game.

This was a great win for the Rangers, and an important win for potential playoff seeding. They keep on finding ways to win, battling every night for two points. Their success this season has been tremendous, and their never-say-die attitude has really helped them throughout the season.

Henrik Lundqvist continues to play some fantastic hockey since his return from injury. Many people thought that there would be a long transition period back to top form, but he appears to be at his best right now. Lundqvist made some really huge saves throughout the game to keep the Rangers in the game, and is one win shy of 30 for the season. If he reaches 30 wins, it would mark the ninth season in his career that he has hit the 30 win plateau.

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Henrik Lundqvist was really strong again in net for the Rangers, coming up in the clutch when the team needed him the most. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Since Alain Vigneault put JT Miller on the second line, the trio of Kreider, Stepan and Miller have been one of the team’s best lines in every game. Miller has eight points (3-5-8) in the last 10 games, and Kreider has 10 points (4-6-10) in the last nine games, including a four game point streak (1-4-5).

But the most impressive has been Derek Stepan. Ever since snapping his pointless streak in the game against the Anaheim Ducks, Stepan has been red hot. Over the last nine games, he has recorded five goals and seven assists, bringing his point total to 55 (16-39-55) for the season. He has been a very important impact player for the Rangers, and is heating off right as the playoffs begin.

The new third line had their best game since it was formed, with Martin St. Louis scoring the first goal of the game. Kevin Hayes was very noticeable, and the line generated quite a few scoring chances. Marty made some really crisp passes, and looked a lot more comfortable tonight. A line with Hayes at center doesn’t stay quiet for long, so it was good to see them have a strong game, as well as getting St. Louis back on the board.

I also thought that the fourth line had one of their best games in a while. They had some scoring chances, and spent a lot of time in Columbus’ zone. Tanner Glass has been playing much better over the past few weeks, and the bottom line is slowly becoming a reliable and useful trio for Alain Vigneault to use.

Keith Yandle continues to impress with the puck, consistently making smart little plays at the blue line and moving the puck very well. The power play was strong tonight, and Yandle nearly scored in the third period. With the assist on the game winner, Yandle now has nine points (1-8-9) in his last nine games.

The Rangers next game will be Tuesday night in their season finale against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

THREE STARS

1) Derek Stepan – 2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, 18:20 TOT

2) Henrik Lundqvist – 29 SV, .906 SV%

3) Chris Kreider – 2 A, 3 SOG, 14:41 TOT

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Posted on April 7, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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