Grabner’s hat trick leads Rangers to dominating win over Tampa Bay

Bobby Bevilacqua


Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a tough loss in Carolina, the Rangers (6-3-0) rebounded extremely well, scoring six goals and dominating Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-0) at Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash opened the goal scoring in the second period, and from there the floodgates opened. Jimmy Vesey and JT Miller each scored in this period, while Michael Grabner netted the first of his hattrick in the middle period. Antti Raanta finished the game with 31 saves, surrendering a late goal to Steven Stamkos that spoiled the shutout.

Here’s my recap with some thoughts and observations;

-There’s really nothing to report from the first period. Most of it was a snooze fest, except for when the Rangers had chances on the power play.

-Michael Grabner and Rick Nash were the standout performers this period. Grabner led the team with 3 shots on goal and Nash was his usual self, causing havoc in front of the net and using his size and presence to create chances.

-The Rangers were up in shots, 16-10, after one period.

-The second period was INSANE. Best offensive period of Rangers hockey all season. Maybe the best period of hockey they have played yet. Four goals.

-The scoring kicked off early, and it was Rick Nash scoring his fourth goal of the season. After a first period where it looked like the Rangers might not be able to score, that goal was huge for New York, and Rick Nash’s celebration showed that.

-He took a chance and cheated ahead of the play a little bit, and it was thanks to Nick Holden that he got the breakaway after he poked the puck forward from the defensive zone. Nash was in alone on Bishop, and unleashed a wicked wrist shot past the glove of Bishop.

-Nash didn’t have his fourth goal last season until Nov. 21. It’s nice to see him scoring frequently and early. He also has 7 points in 9 games so far.

-A few minutes later, it was Michael Grabner’s turn to get on the board. Hayes held the puck in the zone waiting for a passing lane, found Skjei cutting to the net, and Skjei made a great pass to Grabner for a one timer past Bishop. This was a really pretty passing play and well executed by the Rangers.

-Just 22 seconds later, it was Jimmy Vesey scoring the fifth goal of his rookie season. Rick Nash was in on the forecheck and picked up a turnover, dropped it to Vesey and he sniped it past Bishop underneath his blocker.

-The Rangers wound up having some chances on a two minute 5-on-3 power play, but wouldn’t wind up scoring again until under two minutes. Girardi blocked a shot and worked the puck to Kevin Hayes. He brought it into the Lightning zone, sent a hard shot at Bishop and JT Miller scored after cutting hard to the net. It was the fourth goal in a spectacular period for the Rangers.

-I was glad to see that the Rangers didn’t completely shut themselves down into a defensive shell in the third period, but instead added another two goals to their total. That really set the tone for the period and helped them keep the Lightning at bay.

-Nine minutes into the period, Michael Grabner scored again. His speed is an incredible threat, and it was key to getting ahead of the defensemen and staying ahead. Miller made a great little chip pass and Grabner finished top shelf glove side. Beautiful finish.

-Ryan McDonagh recorded an assist on the play, extending his point streak to an impressive seven games. He’s the first Rangers defenseman to post a seven game assist streak since Brian Leetch in the 1996-97 season, and now has eight points on the season.

-About six minutes later, Grabner completed the hat trick on arguably the prettiest goal of the night. Marc Staal sent Kevin Hayes on a rush up the ice with a nice stretch pass, and Hayes muscled off two defenders, spinning and making a pretty amazing pass to an open Grabner in front. After a nice little deke and a transition to his forehand, Bishop was beat yet again.

-Unfortunately the Lightning would spoil the shutout after Steven Stamkos had a little redirection that managed to sneak through the pads of Raanta. But that would be it, as the Rangers would walk away with a great 6-1 win.

-Raanta played extremely well and made some very impressive saves throughout the night. This was the first game that the Rangers allowed two goals or less, and it was Raanta’s first start in about two weeks. It didn’t seem that way because he was very sharp all night. Hopefully he starts more because Hank needs to have his starts limited to 50-58 games this year.

-Rick Nash had an extremely strong game, and Jimmy Vesey benefited from it. Not that Vesey didn’t do well in his own right, but Nash was dominating from the opening puck drop. He’s been one of the best and most consistent forwards for the Rangers this season, with four goals and seven points, and Jimmy Vesey is a perfect line mate for him. Vesey-Stepan-Nash is a line that should not be broken up.

-With Grabner being used in a more offensive role, the Rangers third line had a fantastic night, collectively scoring nine points. Grabner had a hat trick, Miller had a goal and two assists, and Kevin Hayes had three assists. This group played extremely well together but they might not remain together unfortunately because of Kreider returning. Grabner will likely move back to the fourth line. But this is a great trio that they can turn to mid-game if they want to switch some things up.

-Kevin Hayes has improved drastically. He looks much quicker and that ability to make spectacular passes and set up plays is still there. All three of his assists were ones showed a high level skill and understanding of the game and of his teammates. Coupled with his improved defensive abilities and Hayes is looking like a perfect fit for third line center.

-It’s pretty surprising to say that the best offenses in the league belong to the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers (Montreal too). But this New York offense is really, really impressive. With all of this talent and depth, the leading goal scorers are Jimmy Vesey and Michael Grabner with five goal each. JT Miller leads the team with nine points, and the team has 10 players with six points or more. The Rangers offense is good enough to win any game, and good enough to cover the team’s deficiencies. For that reason, the Rangers have a legit chance to be contenders if they remain this consistent.

-The Rangers play next on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden.


1) Michael Grabner – 3 G, 6 SOG, +4, 15:47 TOT

2) Antti Raanta – 31 SV, .969 SV%

3) Rick Nash – 1 G, 1 A, 14:27 TOT

4) Kevin Hayes – 3 A, 2 SOG, +4, 16:38 TOT


Posted on October 31, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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