Last night’s 1-0 shutout of the Canes won’t go down as a classic. But the Rangers will take it. It kept up their roll increasing a season high win streak to six entering tomorrow’s key match against the Caps. Ryan McDonagh scored the lone goal and Cam Talbot turned aside 18 shots for his third shutout this season.
”We’ll take the two wins, kind of in different fashions,” McDonagh said. ”We did a good job of containing them and eliminating their opportunities.”
After a slow start and injury, the Ranger captain has started to put up points. He has seven points (2-5-7) over his last 10. In those contests, the team is 6-1-0 with the only defeat coming to the Lightning on 12/1. McDonagh is up to two goals and eight assists with a plus-eight rating in 20 games.
Following a shootout win at Carolina, the Rangers started quickly. Relentless on the forecheck, they peppered Canes backup Anton Khudobin. Still winless, he played as well as possible stoning our shooters countless times. For whatever reason, he steps it up at MSG. In two starts this season, Khudobin stopped 63 of 65. It wasn’t enough.
All it took was a perfect set up from Derek Stepan behind the net to a pinching McDonagh for the game’s only goal at 4:10. Following his second goal, the Blueshirts never stopped outshooting the Canes 11-4 in the first period. For the game, they held a 31-18 edge. It was every bit as lopsided as the statistics. They dominated but were unable to get any more by Khudobin. It is a Ranger tradition turning mere mortals into Dominik Hasek. The power play misfired on three opportunities.
At least they defended well making Talbot’s life easy. All three of his shutouts have been pieces of cake. The first two came against the Flyers, who didn’t put up much of a fight. The third against a tired Carolina team that is ticketed for the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes. They are that bad. Their goalies can only do so much. Especially with Eric Staal not the same player.
”You never want to be the guy to come in and break the winning streak,” Talbot said. ”I didn’t really have to do a whole lot tonight, the guys in front of me did an unbelievable job.”
On a night Dan Girardi played his 600th NHL game, they only took one penalty and didn’t allow one quality chance. Talbot didn’t have to work but did his job a day after signing a one-year extension. The shutout was the club’s league-leading eighth. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the eight shutouts in 31 games are the first time they’ve had that many since 1928-29.
”We are no different than any team in the NHL. You can’t win if you don’t get goaltending,” coach Alain Vigneault said. ”When we use Cam, he’s given us some real good performances.”
The game was so boring, I flipped to the Sabres/Bruins and Leafs/Hawks. Those were more entertaining. It’s no fun watching your team win 1-0 against inferior competition you should blow out. Rick Nash was held without a point for the second straight game. It wasn’t for lack of chances. He attempted 12 shots with six on net. The effort is there consistently. He’s outworking defenders who are having quite the time trying to keep up. When he doesn’t score, the offense isn’t great.
There was no point watching. I caught the end with Mats Zuccarello making one final clear to preserve the shutout. On to the next one.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Cam Talbot, NYR (18 save shutout-3rd of season)
2nd Star-Ryan McDonagh, NYR (goal-2nd of season, +1 in 23:36)
1st Star-Anton Khudobin, Car (30 saves incl. 23/24 in first 2)