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Dom Moore’s late goal lifts Rangers to dominating Game 1 win at MSG

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Henrik Lundqvist celebrates as the horn sounds, signaling a Game 1 win for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers had been the better team at even strength throughout most of the game, it took a late goal from Dominic Moore to send the Rangers home happy, coming away with yet another 2-1 win and a 1-o series lead early.

Although it’s only one game, getting off on the right foot is a great way for the Rangers to start the series, giving them a chance to go up two games and head into Tampa with a significant advantage. Having home ice is a luxury, and it would be great to see the Rangers take true advantage of it.

Also, Ben Bishop came into this game with an 8-0-0 record against the Rangers in his career. Getting a win in game one lets the Rangers then know that he can be beaten, and gives them a confidence boost. The armor has been pierced.

As we are all accustomed to by now, another Rangers’ playoff game ended in a one goal margin. That increases their NHL record to 15 consecutive games, including all 13 playoff games this year. This was also the ninth playoff game for the Rangers this year that ended in a 2-1 score. Their record in those games is 7-2, and they’ve grown increasingly more comfortable in these tight games.

From the first game alone, it’s easy to see that this series will be a lot more wide open, with more odd -man rushes, more scoring chances, and a faster pace. The Lightning play a similar style of game, looking for longer passes and a strong transition game.

Ben Bishop had a solid game despite the loss, most notably in the first period. Bishop covered the bottom of the net well, using his pads very well and taking up a lot of space in net, even when he is down on the ice. The Rangers kept shooting around his glove hand, which is a weak point, but he was up for the task.

Henrik Lundqvist continued his domination in these playoffs, allowing only one goal on 24 shots. He was not tested often in the first half of the game, but made some solid saves through traffic towards the end of the game. Lundqvist has held opponents to just one goal in eight of the 13 playoff games so far, and now has a 1.56 GAA and a .945 save percentage. He’s playing like a man on a mission.

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Lundqvist had another fantastic game, allowing just one goal for the eighth time in 13 playoff games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

One thing that I found odd was the fact that the Lightning really didn’t do all that much at even strength. The Rangers dominated 5-on-5 play, giving up next to no quality chances. Blueshirt defensemen shut down the triplet line and the Stamkos line.

However, on the power play, the Lightning scared me. They moved the puck extremely well, and scored their only goal on the man advantage. The Rangers need to stay out of the box.

Before the game, it was announced that Brian Boyle would not play in the game due to an undisclosed injury. In the postgame interview, Jon Cooper said that he hoped that Boyle could come back for the series.

The first period may have been the best period of hockey for the Rangers in these playoffs. They had 69% of the possession, had a lot more shot attempts than the Lightning (25-11), and also led in the shots on goal department (11-7). The Lightning never pressured, and the Rangers had a couple of Grade A chances.

Not long into the first period, Alain Vigneault bumped Kevin Hayes up to the first line on the right wing alongside Derick Brassard and Rick Nash, with Martin St. Louis moving down to the third line. Hayes had two of the best chances in the period, toe-dragging before firing a wrister that was gloved by Bishop, and then taking another wrist shot that hit the outside of the post. Rick Nash’s wraparound went off a Tampa defender, but Bishop made a great pad save there too.

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Kevin Hayes had a fantastic first period and a fantastic game, generating a lot of offense and playing a big part in the game winning goal. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The second period was a bit more relaxed, with both teams getting some good chances. The Rangers still managed to have the upper hand at even strength. When it looked like it the game would be scoreless heading into the third period, the Rangers finally broke through with less than 13 seconds remaining.

The Rangers were working hard behind the net, and worked the puck out to Ryan McDonagh. His shot was blocked in front, and collected by Chris Kreider. Kreider turned to get a shot on net, but it hit the skate of Sustr. Derek Stepan was right there for the rebound, and opened the scoring in the Eastern Conference Finals, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

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Derek Stepan opened the scoring for the Rangers at the end of the second period, his fourth goal and ninth point of these playoffs. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers got into a bit of penalty trouble in the third period, getting called for three separate penalties in the game. The Lightning scored once on the man advantage, and it was Ondrej Palat scoring on a gorgeous set play. Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson made two quick passes over to Palat below the right faceoff circle for a one timer, tying the game at one.

The Rangers would take two more penalties, and the Lightning made a big push, getting some high quality chances. But the Alain Vigneault’s penalty kill was very strong. After Dominic Moore came out of the box for tripping, the Rangers made a push of their own.

Kevin Hayes got the puck behind the net, using his size to fend off Ryan Callahan, and work towards the side of the net, parallel to Bishop. He quickly turned and got a puck on net. Dominic Moore was charging to the net, and Hayes aimed the shot towards Moore, deflecting off his knee and into the net with just 2:25 remaining in the game. That would prove to be the game winner.

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Dominic Moore is ecstatic after scoring the go-ahead goal, which would wind up the game winner. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers defense continues to be a great support group for Henrik Lundqvist, clearing the crease and blocking shots well. While Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were busy shutting down the triplet line, a lot of credit goes to Marc Staal, who was on Steven Stamkos for most of the day, alongside Dan Boyle. That pairing played extremely well, with Staal doing a lot of the heavy lifting against Stamkos, and Boyle creating a lot of offense as well.

Also, Brian Boyle and Keith Yandle looked a lot more comfortable. The speed game is what they both play well in, much better than a very physical type of game like against the Capitals. They played well, and this could be a better series for the two of them.

The Rangers size and physicality was a lot more of a factor than I thought it would be. Kevin Hayes, Rick Nash and Chris Kreider were all able to push the Lightning around and get to wherever they wanted. This is something that needs to be exploited more. It could be a big advantage for the Rangers, especially if Brian Boyle stays out of the lineup.

Kevin Hayes had a fantastic game. In the first period alone, he was a plus eight in shot attempts, and nearly found the back of the net twice. Adding him to the top line worked very well, as it added more size and skill to that top line. His assist on Moore’s goal was tremendous, as he really set up most of the play. Hayes is getting better and better as the playoffs go on, and he was very strong again tonight.

Dominic Moore doesn’t nearly get the credit that he deserves. Moore is the perfect definition of a bottom six forward. He’s a tremendous defender, and when he gets the chance to play offense, he takes advantage of it. Moore’s injected life into the third line, and he’s come really close to scoring in the past few games. It’s good to see someone that works so hard finally get rewarded.

The Rangers will look to take a two game lead on Monday night back at Madison Square Garden.

THREE STARS

1) Dominic Moore – 1 G, 3 SOG, 17:13 TOT

2) Henrik Lundqvist – 23 SV, .958 SV%

3) Kevin Hayes – 1 A, 1 SOG, 2 HT, 15:38 TOT

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Posted on May 17, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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