For those of you counting at home, that’s four in a row for the Rangers, and now 6 wins in their last 7 games…needless to say, the Rangers have picked the right time to get their season back on track now with single digit games remaining.
Today’s game most certainly could have been a heartbreaker. After the Rangers were giftwrapped a 5 minute major from (family man and all around great guy [cite: HBO]) Matt Cooke after his ridiculously obvious intent to injure elbow to the head on McDonagh, the Rangers tried their hardest to blow the game by following that up with what started off as the worst Rangers power play since McCabe got here, coupled with a Kunitz shorthanded goal. The Pens take a 2-1 lead rather than the Rangers using the momentum from a 5 minute major to break a tie game wide open.
Alas it was not in the cards for these Rangers to go down so destructively in Pittsburgh as has been the norm since the lockout (disregarding this year). Letang wouldn’t have the Penguins march to victory so easily as he made it harder on the team after taking a blatant high sticking double minor (that was of course argued by Bylsma and co) and giving the Rangers a long 5 on 3. The Rangers go on to score 2 goals in 11 seconds, another offensive explosion after 3 goals in 1:07 against Montreal on Friday, and put the game away soon after.
Now, it wouldn’t be like me to go on talking about how the Rangers were so great during the third period after gaining the lead without first focusing on what got them to where they were in the game.
The first Penguins goal was a joke, and Dan Girardi flat out played a pretty mediocre game. It really makes you wonder if Staal is masking Girardi’s skills as a dman with his play. I don’t think so, but it’s OK to question these things once in a while. Fault the fact that he was playing with a new partner and Wolski made a bad change on the play as to why Jordan Staal was open for the breakaway.
That shorthanded goal the Pens scored to take the league and suck the life out of me (but not the Rangers thankfully) was a mix of mental errors. Girardi got lucky that he got his stick on the puck before Kunitz had a breakaway not 10 seconds before he would end up scoring. Zuccarello made a bad pass to Christensen and Kunitz picked it off. Girardi who was gassed and trying to get to the bench had to turn around and defend, and it was a pretty terrible effort, but again he was gassed. You also have to think that Henrik wants that shot back, and if it indeed became the game winning goal, there would be a ton of focus on the fact that Henrik let that shot in, at that specific time.
But it wasn’t…THANK YOU MATT COOKE, enjoy your 8+ game vacation, and if he gets any less, the league is a joke. Where’s Lemieux now to whine about headshots and the lack of league discipline in these matters? Brooks better destroy him in the Post tomorrow.
But these 20 men that take the ice for the Rangers night in and night out appear to be never say die kind of people. They’re in every game. Kunitz’s goal could have sucked the life out of the team and been a miserable turning point in this race to the playoffs but it wasn’t the way Callahan and co wanted the game to end.
Gaborik got back to his game breaking self scoring that clutch goal off the rip by McCabe to tie the game.
Callahan continues to prove why he’ll be the captain of this team to start next season by grabbing the game winner. Good things happen when you crash the net.
I love the fact that McDonagh and Stepan paired up on a goal after McDonagh came out of the box serving what should have been coincidental minors to himself and Letang, but hey ya know, Penguins on NBC.
Dubinsky cashes the empty netter.
Just an all around feel good win for the Rangers as they get themselves 4 in a row. As Hank continues to stretch his biggest winning streak of the season (also at 4) and climb over 30 wins. For all the notariety NBC was giving Fleury today for how he’s “carried” the Penguins after Crosby and Malkin went down, not enough love was given to Henrik Lundqvist who severely out-dueled Fleury. Both of whom now have 31 wins, both of whom were called upon to carry teams riddled by injury. But you heard none of that on NBC. That Henrik has had to backstop a Rangers team that has missed it’s best offensive forward, heart and soul core forwards, and top 2 dmen on certain nights, nope none of that. Fact of the matter is at this pace Henrik should be a big part of the Vezina voting.
That one really does feel good.
The Rangers are now just 3 points behind the Canadiens in 6th place while 4 points ahead of the Sabres who drop the puck in 20 minutes. The Habs have 1 game in hand while the Sabres carry 2.
The sprint to the finish is gaining heat and the Rangers are up to the task.
4 in a row.
6 of their last 7.
Like I’ve said before here, no time to get complacent until that X is next to your teams name on NHL.com.
The Rangers will host the Panthers at MSG on Friday night, another game where two points can be obtained with the right effort and gameplan.
I’ll be back Tuesday for a game preview and Player Profile.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
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Written by Adam Gavriel