The Runner Sports

Rangers Rebound At Home Behind Fantastic Start

We have ourselves a series. After dropping two heartbreakers in Ottawa, the New York Rangers returned home for a virtual must win to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole. Win they did and decisively, 4-1, not allowing this contest to come down to the end. From the opening puck drop, the Rangers were flying. They played with necessary desperation and inspiration, simply overpowering Ottawa with their combination of speed and toughness. Finally, it looked like the Rangers from round 1 had reappeared.

The passing was stellar and most importantly smart. They avoided the boneheaded early penalties unlike Games 1 and 2. They kept the Sens away from Henrik Lundqvist, making his life easier as he was able to see shots clearly. Ottawa had minimal top-notch chances all game.

After sustaining constant pressure the first few minutes of the game, Mats Zuccarello got the Rangers on the board at 5:31 of the first period off a beautiful feed from Mika Zibanejad. A Michael Grabner wraparound goal a few minutes later gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead going into the second period. Unlike the previous game, the Rangers kept going full throttle and increased their lead to 4-0. Rick Nash beat Craig Anderson short-side on a 2-1 rush for his third of the playoffs to make it 3-0. Then, J.T. Miller danced his way around a bunch of Senators to set of Oscar Lindberg with a wide open net for the final goal.

J.G. Pageau scored again to cut the Rangers’ lead to 4-1 but that was the closest the Senators would come. Expecting another tough push from Ottawa in the third period, the Rangers stood up to the task. Whatever chances the Sens had, Lundqvist stopped them, but overall the Rangers really limited them. A welcomed change from the past two games.

After taking a lot of heat for his bench management in Game 2, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault went with Tanner Glass instead of Pavel Buchnevich. It certainly paid off, as Glass provided a spark the Rangers needed to get back to their chippy ways. Glass was active on the forecheck and was his usual self in terms of hitting and trash talking. In addition, AV balanced his lines better, and all were very effective.

Mika Zibanjed and Zuccarello were the best Blueshirts tonight. Zibanejad is playing with extreme confidence. He was strong with the puck, had a host of quality scoring chances and of course the gorgeous pass to Zucc for the opening goal. Zuccarello led the team with two points, as he also added an assist on the Grabner goal. Shout out to Dan Girardi who also played a real solid game, blocking shots and was sturdy defensively. On the other hand, Chris Kreider continued his struggles. He could not get anything going offensively and committed a dumb slashing penalty while the Rangers were on a power play.

Something to keep an eye on, the Senators lost two forwards during the game. Zack Smith left in the first period after taking a big hit from J.T. Miller along the boards, while Bobby Ryan limped to the locker room in the third period never to return. Both could be big losses for Ottawa. Smith is a strong penalty killer and shot blocker. Ryan, although quiet so far in this series, is a crucial playmaker for this Senators team. He put his abilities on display with a nifty behind the back pass to J.G. Pageau for the Sens’ lone goal of the night.

For the Rangers to have any shot at tying the series going back to Ottawa, they will need to play with same intensity as tonight. When they play like this, not many teams can keep up. Ottawa had no way of stopping them, so look for more of the same Thursday night from the Blueshirts.