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Lundqvist Shutout Propels Rangers over Penguins

Ezra Kwestel

Hayes goal vs. PIT

Kevin Hayes celebrates his goal with Daniel Paille (Photo via NY Rangers)

Tonight, the New York Rangers (31-18-5) defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins (27-19-7) by a score of 3-0. Let’s start off with the positives: The Rangers have now won four in a row and are 4-1 since the All-Star break and 7-3 in their last 10 games. Many people noted that tonight’s game was going to be a litmus test for the Rangers, going up against a Penguins team that has been clicking on all cylinders lately. It was also the Rangers first game against a team in playoff position since their tilt on January 17 at Washington. Although the Rangers went into Pittsburgh and shut out Crosby and Co. we can’t categorize tonight’s game as “signature win.” With that being said, there is still plenty of merit in winning a road game without Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash. It should also be noted that the Penguins played tonight’s game without All-Star forward Evgeni Malkin.

To the game itself: Just eight minutes into the first period after yet another failed PowerPlay, the Rangers got on the board just 15 seconds later as Kevin Hayes converted a rebound into a fairly wide open net. Thankfully, Daniel Paille just got out of the way of the shot. It reminded me of the the Brian Boyle/Mike Rupp episode in the 2012 series vs the Capitals. We can only imagine the outrage is Paille actually managed to stop the puck. The Rangers were able to escape the first period up by a goal due to some stellar play by Henrik Lundqvist, who finished the night with 34 saves and the shutout. Some sloppy play in their defensive end contributed to Lundqvist having to stand on his head.

After a scoreless second period, the Rangers got on the board early in the third when Dominic Moore ripped a beautiful snipe over the right shoulder of a helpless Marc-Andre Fleury. The Rangers had to kill off one penalty in the third when Chris Kreider was called for interference. I still don’t know what Kreider did wrong. The Rangers finished the night 2 for 2 on the PK, which is another positive. Not much excitement after the Pens’ PowerPlay and Jesper Fast added an empty netter to cap off the scoring as the Rangers escaped CONSOL Energy Center with a 3-0 win. The Rangers now have a six point lead over the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division, but Pittsburgh does have a game in hand on the Rangers.

When I look at the five Rangers games since the All-Star, break I harp on their even strength play. During the slump/losing streak/debacle of December, the Rangers were downright horrendous playing five-on-five. In the five games since the break, the Rangers have given up only four goals at even strength. On top of that, the Rangers have only given up ONE goal in their last eight periods of hockey. If not for Keith Yandle’s misplay on Monday night, it would have been eight periods of shutout hockey and back to back shutouts for Lundqvist. But the main point here is that the Rangers have shown that hopefully rock bottom is becoming a distant memory.

The Rangers next game will be Friday night at Madison Square Garden vs. the LA Kings.

Follow me on twitter: @ekwestel

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Posted on February 11, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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