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Rangers rebound in big way with 5-1 win over Lightning; Nash scores twice

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers played well in Game 4, with a better defensive effort, better goaltending, and getting contributions from their best players. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Needing to respond and win after allowing 12 goals in Game 2 and 3, the Rangers did exactly that, winning by a final score of 4-1, and having nearly everything go right for them. The biggest takeaway from tonight is that Vigneault was able to get huge performances from his best players, including Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis.

It was the Rangers first win in the playoffs by a margin of more than one goal, which was nice for a change. A big win was exactly what they needed to build confidence. The series now heads back to Madison Square Garden all tied up at two games apiece.

After Game 3, and following a weak overtime winner in Game 3, Henrik Lundqvist seemed dejected in his postgame interview. Larry Brooks from the New York Post questioned (foolishly) if Henrik Lundqvist should start in Game 4, and there was worry from some fans. But like he always has, Lundqvist upped his performance.

Henrik Lundqvist was really, really good tonight, finishing with 38 saves and just one goal allowed, a rocket from Steven Stamkos. When the Rangers were back on their heels in the second period, when they were outshot 19-6, Lundqvist made some fantastic saves, and really prevented the period from going south. It was a big performance from him in a very big game.

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Henrik Lundqvist bounced back fantastically, raising his compete level and turning aside 38 of the 39 shots that he faced. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Rick Nash has been doing the little things right throughout the entire playoffs. He hasn’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the lack of goal scoring was concerning. He too stepped up tonight, and he was probably the best forward on the ice. Nash set the tone with the first goal, scored again to ice the game, and had an assist. It was his first ever multigoal game in his playoff career. Fantastic game from him, and one that was needed.

Martin St. Louis finally got on the board in this game, scoring his first goal of the 2015 playoffs, a power play one timer to extend the lead to 4-1. What was even better is that after scoring the goal, he looked like a completely different play. St. Louis has always been a streaky player, and I think he lets it get to him sometimes. But now that he got the monkey off of his back, hopefully this gets the ball rolling for him, and his production and goal scoring can increase.

Chris Kreider continues to be the big-time scorer for New York in these playoffs, netting his seventh goal of these playoffs, which leads the team. His goal tonight was also the game winning goal, giving him six playoff game winning goals. That ties him with three other players for second in franchise history, and just one behind Mark Messier.

As I’ve said from Game 1, the best defensemen in this series has been Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle. They look extremely comfortable, have been making pretty strong reads on plays, have stepped up their defensive play, and are contributing offensively. Dan Boyle played 20:10 in this game, and added an assist, extending his point streak to three games, with five points (1-4-5) in that span. Keith Yandle had a heck of a night, with three points (1-2-3), giving him five points (1-4-5) in his last two games.

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Keith Yandle had a terrific game on Friday, finishing with a goal and two assists. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Overall in this game, the defensive effort in this game was much better. Apart from a few mistakes and missed coverages early, they were solid, and it was more difficult for Tampa to create really good scoring chances. The Rangers still need to work on their turnovers and communication, because it almost cost them a few times.

The Rangers’ power play has been outstanding lately, with two power play goals in each of their last three games. They’re 6-13 (46.2%) in those three games, and that streak of two power play goals in three straight games is their longest playoff streak since 1992. The Rangers have a power play goal in five of their last six games, 10 of their last 17 games, 11 of their last 19 games, and 13 of their last 23 games. And they have four power play goals in the last two games on just five shots on goal.

The first period was a perfect example of how the Rangers need to play against Tampa. First and foremost, they were much more aggressive on the forecheck, throwing the body and slowing down the Lightning’s forwards. It worked, and the Rangers were able to avoid a track meet, super quick style of play. It was still a fast period, but there was more physicality and tighter checking.

The Lightning had two tremendous chances early in the period. Nikita Kucherov was all alone in front following a Tampa faceoff win. Chris Kreider left his man, and Dan Girardi went towards the board, leaving him all alone at point blank range. Thankfully, he missed the net badly, and the Rangers dodged a bullet.

Tyler Johnson was in a similar situation with Tampa Bay on the power play. All four of the Rangers’ skaters were in one corner, and Johnson had a shot close to the net, but hit the goal post. The Lightning were not able to score.

With less than three minutes remaining, the Rangers got on the board, and it was Rick Nash scoring his first goal of the game. Carl Hagelin started the play on defense, tying up his man and kicking the puck over to Kevin Hayes. At that moment, Rick Nash began skating hard through the neutral zone, and Kevin Hayes made a great pass to send him into Tampa’s zone. He protected the puck, outmuscled Cedric Pacquette, and beat Bishop with a backhander past his outstretched right pad. That gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, and ended a very good period for New York.

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Rick Nash made a sweet move on the breakaway, shoving off his defender and beating Bishop’s outstretched pad. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The second period got a bit out of hand for the Rangers, yet they still managed to come out of it with more goals than the Lightning. Tampa Bay outshot New York 19-6 in this period, and the Rangers were back on their heels for most of the 20 minutes.

Steven Stamkos scored the lone Lightning goal in this period, following a faceoff win and some great puck movement. Alex Killorn set up Stamkos for a one timer, and his slap shot went right where he placed it, top corner, tying the game at one. Stamkos has 12 points in the last 9 games, and Alex Killorn or Steven Stamkos have been involved in 13 of Tampa’s 14 goals this round.

Not even four minutes later, New York recaptured their lead thanks to Chris Kreider. Jeper Fast forced a turnover behind the net, and worked the puck to the point. Keith Yandle passed it off to Kevin Klein, who shot for a rebound. Chris Kreider, positioned in front of the net, was right there to slip the puck between the legs of Bishop, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Just 1:48 later, the Rangers scored again, and this time it was Keith Yandle scoring his first goal of the playoffs. With Tanner Glass setting a screen on Bishop, Yandle blasted a slap shot from the point. The puck deflected off of the leg of Victor Hedman and past Bishop. Despite being pinned back for long stretches of the period, the Rangers scored twice and carried a two goal lead into the third period.

Tampa Bay took a penalty early in the third, with Nikita Nesterov being sent to the box for high stick Martin St. Louis. And he scored on that very same power play. Dan Boyle did a nice job of keeping the puck in at the blue line, and then passing it off to Derick Brassars, who made an excellent pass to Martin St. Louis below the faceoff circle for a one timer, sailing past Bishop and into the net. It was his first goal of the playoffs.

On a later power play, Rick Nash would score his second goal of the game on a play in front of the net. Keith Yandle shot the puck from the point, and Kevin Hayes came out of nowhere to get a stick on it and cause the puck to change direction. Bishop made the save, but Nash backhanded it through his pads, icing the game with a 5-1 score.

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Rangers skaters congratulate Rick Nash on his second goal of the game in the third period. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The game ended with numerous penalties being handed out, as the frustration clearly got to the Lightning players. Tampa Bay’s skaters instigated on a few occasions, and a total of 40 penalty minutes were handed out in the final 2:29 of the period.

Eventually, the Rangers came away with exactly the type of win that they needed. Guys like Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist all had big nights to boost their confidence, and a 5-1 final score knocked Tampa Bay down to earth, and shows that the Rangers can control the game and series if the play well enough.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 38 SV, .974 SV%

2) Rick Nash – 2 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, 7 SA, 3 HT, 15:51 TOT

3) Keith Yandle – 1 G, 2 A, +2, 4 SOG, 18:16 TOT

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Posted on May 23, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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