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Rangers rally late for win over the Bruins; Girardi suffers lacerated hand

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers celebrate good pic 1-11

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (23-14-4) like to make things exciting, and they were able to turn a thrilling third period into a 2-1 win over the rival Boston Bruins (21-15-4) at Madison Square Garden, getting back in the win column before heading on the road for three games.

After a heartbreaking loss with a late goal against the Capitals, it was the Rangers breaking hearts tonight, as Jesper Fast scored the game winning goal with under two minutes remaining. After some shaky and rather bland play in the first two periods, the Rangers rebounded nicely and secured a big two points.

The Rangers may have struggled a lot on the road, but they’ve been great on home ice so far. Vigneault’s squad leads the Eastern Conference with 34 home points, and they’ve posted a 16-5-2 record at the Garden.

AV has also had an entirely healthy squad for a while now, apart from the Kreider hand cut, but it appears that there may be another injury. Dan Girardi hurt his hand blocking a shot in the second period, which was later revealed to be a bad cut on his hand. The initial reports say nothing is broken, but the team will know more tomorrow.

The first period was very well played by both teams, and definitely by the Rangers. They played well enough against the Capitals to win, and put forth another strong 20 minutes. The Blueshirts had the better of the chances, and seemingly more pressure, and finished up in shots 11-10.

The Bruins got the first great chance, with Ryan Spooner charging at the net and Henrik Lundqvist making the glove save.

But the Rangers came charging back, led by the top line. JT Miller made an excellent play to setup Derick Brassard for a one timer, but Rask made the save. Miller also had a slap shot from the left wing that was stopped with a pad, and Mats Zuccarello just missed getting a shot off of the rebound.

Then Jesper Fast had a few good chances, deflecting a shot from the point, with Rask barely getting a piece of the puck. He then rifled a wrist shot on goal, but Rask made a good glove save.

Jayson Megna took a penalty for high sticking, and things started to swing back in the Bruins favor. They didn’t score, but wound up building momentum.

Spooner nearly scored after Chris Kreider, playing his first game since December 30th, fumbled the puck in his own zone. Spooner beat Lundqvist with a deke but was stopped by the post. He had an excellent period, getting two good chances and finishing with a +7 Corsi rating.

Again, it was a pretty strong period by the Rangers, apart from the fact that they gave up a few too many breakaways and rushes. Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein played well together, and Klein was very active in the period. McDonagh and Klein finished with a +5 and +4 corsi for, respectively.

The second period was not all that good for New York. They looked turnover prone, they were outmuscled, and they didn’t have a lot of quality scoring chances.

One of the good chances that they did have ended because of some bad luck. The Rangers went on a 3-on-1 rush, and Chris Kreider elected to take the shot, which was the right move. But unfortunately his stick snapped on the shot and New York didn’t get a shot on goal.

Around five minutes into the period, Dan Girardi went to the bench favoring his right hand. Jim Ramsay looked at his hand, and the two headed to the locker room. Girardi did not return.

The Bruins broke through first, and it was Jimmy Hayes scoring his 10th goal of the season, and his fifth in the last six games. It started when Kreider tried to pass the puck to himself off of the boards, but Zdeno Chara broke up the play in the neutral zone. Hayes eventually got the puck, carried it over the blue line and snapped a shot at Lundqvist, beating him on the far post.

There is no reason why Jimmy Hayes should score on Lundqvist on an uncontested, clean wrister from 40 feet out with no screen. It was a bad goal, and one Hank has to stop.

Despite being tied in shots at 22, the Rangers were significantly outchanced. The Bruins had 51 shot attempts to the Rangers 30, and had the better chances from close to the net. Nothing was going on for the Rangers, and that had to change in the third period.

And it did chance, drastically. The Rangers got off to an excellent start, scoring in the first minute and seemingly controlling play for the majority of the final frame. They had more shot attempts and possession, as well as eight scoring chances to the Bruins’ five.

It all started just 35 seconds into the period, with Derick Brassard scoring his 15th goal of the season. Ryan McDonagh made some excellent saves alongside the boards, keeping the puck in the zone and the play alive three times. Zuccarello drove hard to the net, got the puck to Brassard for the slam dunk into the open net.

Moments later, Henrik Lundqvist made one of the best saves you will ever see. With the Bruins pressuring, Zac Rinaldo got the puck on goal, leaving a rebound chance for Max Talbot. Lundqvist lunged to his right, lifting his right leg and getting a skate blade on the puck to keep it out of the net.

After that crucial save, the Rangers were able to control the game and dictate the pace and the puck possession. The scoring chances also started to pile up. Viktor Stalberg almost scored his third goal in as many games, hitting both the crossbar and the post with his wrist shot. Derek Stepan had a great chance, deflecting a shot from Keith Yandle just wide of the net.

With time winding down, Stepan forced his way through defenders to get the puck into the zone. Klein’s slap shot went wide, but Yandle was along the opposite board to collect the puck. He fired a knuckling slapshot towards the net, and Fast got his stick on it, deflecting it past Rask with just 1:42 remaining.

The goal was Fast’s seventh of the season, a new career high. Yandle picked up assist number 21 and Klein collected his sixth helper of the year.

Plus, just look at how excited he was. One of the best Rangers celebrations this year.

With Rask on the bench for an extra attacker, the Rangers faced a flurry of late shots and chances. But thanks to Lundqvist and a good defensive structure, the Rangers were able to skate away with a huge victory.

The Rangers have alternated wins and losses for the last seven games, but this gutsy comeback could be the start of something good. They haven’t won consecutive games since November 21-23, and a successful road trip, as well as a win streak, could give this team some momentum.

I’m extremely impressed with Henrik Lundqvist. He let in a bad goal against Jimmy Hayes, but was then flawless for the last 30 minutes. And that skate save on Talbot was not only incredible, but an integral part of the Rangers getting the win. It was an excellent game from the franchise goalie.

JT Miller has continued to grow and flourish as a top six player. When he was with Brassard and Zuccs, that was the team’s best line. And when AV moved him with Stepan and Megna, that was the explosive line. He’s getting lots of ice time and making the most of it.

Speaking of top-six players, Jayson Megna is not one of them. Sure it was nice to see him score in his Rangers debut, but he didn’t do all that much on the second line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. In fact, that line was horrible for almost the entire game. Megna was a -10 in on ice-corsi differential, while Derek Stepan (-9) and Rick Nash (-15) didn’t fare any better. Put Lindberg back into the lineup.

The defensive structure in this game was a lot more organized. There were some miscues and a few too many Boston rushes in the first period, but they really were a lot tighter for the last 40 minutes, limiting what the Bruins were able to do. When the defense is good, this is a good team.

The Rangers will look for their second consecutive win when they take on the New York Islanders this Thursday.

THREE STARS

1) Jesper Fast – 1 G, 4 SOG, 13:31 TOT

2) Henrik Lundqvist – 32 SV, .970 SV%

3) Ryan McDonagh – 1 A, 2 SOG, 2 BS, +12 CF, 24:29 TOT

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Posted on January 12, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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