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Lundqvist magnificent as Rangers blank Predators in the Big Apple

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers goal celebration msg background 11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

There is nothing more confusing and puzzling in the NHL right now than the Rangers winning formula.

Despite getting outshot 25-7 after 40 minutes, and outshot 31-19 for the whole game, the New York Rangers (16-3-2) managed to survive a barrage of Nashville Predators (11-6-3) shots on net, starting a new win streak of two games.

Chants of “Hen-rik!” “Hen-rik!” were heard throughout the Garden, as the NHL leader in win improved his record to 12-3-2 with his second shutout of the season, a fantastic 31 save performance on home ice. He was the only reason his team was ahead after the second period despite taking five penalties. New York was vastly outplayed for large portions of this game, but Lundqvist gave them the win.

The 16 wins and 34 points that the Rangers have collected so far is the most recorded through the first 21 games in franchise history. They also extended their win streak on home ice to nice games, and are 10-1-1 at Madison Square Garden.

Rangers fans everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief once the first period was over, because it was really that bad. Nashville outshot the Rangers 14-3, and Vigneault’s defensemen were forced to block 11 shots from guys like Shea Weber and his 110 MPH slap shot. Not fun.

There was really nothing happening for the first half of the period, as both teams traded a few chances but got caught by good defense in the neutral zone. The turning point came when the Rangers took a penalty with 11:07 remaining. James Neal was up to his usual antics and managed to draw an interference call on Dan Girardi. From that point on, the Predators took over.

Nashville would have three power play opportunities in this opening frame, with the last one being a four minute double minor assessed to Derek Stepan for high sticking. Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein were particularly good on the penalty kill, with Girardi making a spectacular poke check to get the puck away from Ryan Ellis, who was just feet from the net.

henrik lundqvist pad save 11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Henrik Lundqvist turned aside all 14 shots he faced, with his best one coming on the penalty kill. Ellis blasted a slap shot from the blue line through a screen, and Hank was able to position his right pad and make the stop. New York was lucky to come away from thee 20 minutes unscathed.

The story was practically the same for the second period. They killed off the rest of Stepan’s double minor, as well as a tripping penalty on Rick Nash, and they finished with a whopping four shots on goal. The difference was that they managed to score on one of those shots.

Just 4:32 into the second period, Yandle pinched along the boards, forcing a Nashville turnover right to the waiting stick of Rick Nash. Nash made a quick deke and used a burst of speed to get down the ice before shooting a perfectly placed wrist shot over the shoulder of Pekka Rinne. On their fifth shot of the game, the Blueshirts took the lead.

The Predators took over from there, preventing the Rangers from getting a shot on goal for over seven minutes. Their best chance came late in the period when Rinne denied Dan Girardi with his pad, and Brassard hit the outside of the net following the rebound.

On the other end of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist was standing on his head, making save after save to keep Nashville off of the board. The Preds peppered him with five shots on goal on the power play, and he made two great saves; a left pad save on Gabriel Bourque as well as closing up the pads after Colin Wilson batted a puck out of midair.

Through two periods, the Predators held a 25-7 advantage in shots on goal. Even worse is the shot attempt numbers. Nashville attempted 62 shots and the Rangers had just 21 shot attempts.

The third period is where the Rangers stepped up and played much better. They outshot Nashville 12-6, scored another two goals and frustrated the Predators into a lot of penalties. By shutting out the Predators, Nashville extended their scoreless streak to over 213 minutes, more than 10 periods.

The Rangers first goal of the period was scored by Derek Stepan, on one of their first extended offensive shifts of the game. Marc Staal set up Stepan with a perfect pass, and he slid it through the legs of Rinne, doubling their lead. Kevin Hayes had the secondary assist.

Just over 10 minutes into the period, Kevin Hayes scored on the power play after his wrist shot deflected off of Barret Jackman and into the back of the net. Keith Yandle and Oscar Lindberg picked up the assists.

keith yandle and kevin hayes hi five 11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Thanks to some big saves from Lundqvist, including a sequence of three saves that ended with a pad stop on Gabriel Bourque, the Rangers managed to skate away with their ninth consecutive win on home ice, and have now won two consecutive games.

Rick Nash looked like the Rick Nash of last season when he wasn’t pinned back in his own zone on the penalty kill during the first two periods. His goal, the fourth in two games, was a perfectly placed wrist shot. He admitted after the game that he saw Rinne cheating to the glove side, and “couldn’t pass up on that shot.” He’s driving to the net, playing tough and scoring. It’s really refreshing to see.

There are no words to describe Lundqvist’s performance tonight. He stood on his head through the first two periods, made some truly fantastic saves and continued his Vezina performance worthy start to the season. Do yourself a favor and watch the highlights.

The Rangers have a night off before they take on the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square on Wednesday night.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 31 SV, 1.000 SV%

2) Rick Nash – 1 G, 17:35 TOT

3) Kevin Hayes – 1 G, 1 A, 14:47 TOT

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Posted on November 24, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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