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How Swede it is! Lundqvist, Lindberg power Rangers to 5-2 win over Columbus

Bobby Bevilacqua

Henrik Lundqvist and Kreider and McDonagh 10-10

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers can thank Sweden for their win tonight.

The Rangers (3-0-0) cruised to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (0-2-0), winning their third straight game to start the year, all three of the games being home openers.

Out of the three games to start the season, this was easily the best for Vigneault’s squad. They made sure to jump on the Blue Jackets early, trying to neutralize any intentions of a physical start. Despite playing their third game in four night, the team looked very fresh, and totally dominated the early stages of the game.

The only lineup change came on the fourth line, with Tanner Glass making his season debut, replacing Jesper Fast on the fourth line. This was likely made as a response to the physical nature of Columbus. Glass had a decent game, recording two shots on goal and seven hits, and finishing with a plus one rating.

Rookie sensation Oscar Lindberg was at it again, unfazed by the bright lights and big stage of Madison Square Garden and opening the scoring in the game. After Kevin Hayes intercepted a poor pass in the offensive zone, he nearly tucked it past Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Lindberg had the right instincts to drive hard to the net and tuck away the rebound, scoring just 1:20 into the game.

oscar lindberg goal celebration 10-10

Oscar Lindberg celebrates after scoring the first of his two goals. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

But of course, he wasn’t done there. Lindberg continued his early season success with his fourth goal in three games. It all started with the tremendous forechecking of Viktor Stalberg, who pushed William Karlsson off of the puck and got it over to JT Miller. Miller sent a pass across the crease to Lindberg, who directed it into the back of the net for his second goal of the night.

The onslaught continued 36 seconds after that, with Dominic Moore scoring a fantastic goal for his first of the season. Keith Yandle dropped the puck off to Jarret Stoll, and he quickly sent a puck across the ice. Moore batted it out of midair, from two feet off of the ground and through Bobrovsky’s legs. Quickly it was 3-0.

The Blue Jackets had some of their own pressure, but Henrik Lundqvist was strong, making 14 saves. He carried that over into the second period as well, making an additional 12 saves and keeping Columbus off of the board. His reaction time was remarkable, kicking out the pad and flashing the leather on numerous occasions.

This game, and this whole season, has been some of the best hockey I have ever seen him play. Tonight’s game could be one of Henrik’s best as a Ranger. This save in the second period shows how locked in he is right now.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsAt the end of the period, Derick Brassard scored his first goal of the season on the power play, redirecting a puck off of Jack Johnson and past Bobrovsky. The assists went to Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle, and that goal would end Bobrovsky’s night. Curtis McElhinney played the third period.

Even with a big 4-0 lead, the Rangers didn’t stop playing hard. Derek Stepan scored his second goal of the season with a sweet wrister past a screened McElhinney. The assists went to Chris Kreider and Viktor Stalberg.

Henrik Lundqvist continued to answer a flurry of shots, making numerous remarkable reaction saves with his pads and blockers. He had another highlight reel save this period, going around the world with his pads and getting a piece of the shot to deflect it wide and off of the post.

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However, the Blue Jackets would break through in the third period, with Ryan Johansen scoring his first goal of the season. And as the garden faithful always do, he was serenaded with chants of “Henrik!” for his marvelous performance. The Blue Jackets would score one more goal, finding the back of the net just twice on 39 shots.

I’ll say it again. Henrik Lundqvist is incredible. He’s always a top 3 goalie in the league, and in my opinion, there’s nobody I’d rather have between the pipes than him. When he plays both games of a back to back, Lundqvist is now 44-20-7 with a 2.01 GAA, a .930 save percentage, and eight shutouts in the second game. This season, he has a .943 save percentage through three games.

Henrik Lundqvist around the world save 10-10

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

“Miller to Lindberg” is going to become a popular saying when anyone broadcasts a Rangers game. The two continued to show incredible chemistry early on, with Miller tallying his fourth assist of the season on Lindberg’s fourth goal. They’re playing extremely well together, and the third line was phenomenal again.

Don’t forget about Viktor Stalberg. The offseason acquisition has been excellent, terrorizing opponents on the forecheck, using his speed to back off defenders, and picking up a nice three assists already. The Swedish veteran gels well with Miller and his fellow countryman Lindberg.

Dominic Moore scored the first goal from a fourth liner this year, which came much quicker than it did last season. The Rangers are getting production from all four lines, a crucial part of their early success. Glass played well enough in his debut and the fourth line was strong again.

Keith Yandle has three assists in three games, including two tonight, with one coming on the power play. His presence on the blue line has been noticeable, as the Rangers have been creating a lot of chances from the back end. Yandle is playing with much more talented players here, and for a full season. He’s been really good, he’s aggressive and feisty, and he makes the Rangers a better team.

Alain Vigneault’s squad gets a two day break before facing the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 37 SV, .949 SV%

2) Oscar Lindberg – 2 G, 3 SOG, 3 HT, +2, 14:00 TOT

3) Viktor Stalberg – 2 A, 1 SOG, +2, 14:40 TOT

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Posted on October 11, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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