It’s been a while since the Rangers played a complete game. They had struggled overall entering play with one win over the last six. Outside of a ugly 4-3 win over the lowly Canes, they haven’t been scoring. They followed up a well played shootout loss to the Islanders with a listless performance in a 2-1 home defeat to the Avalanche.
For once, it felt like old familiar times. A different Rangers team earned a 4-1 home win over the Senators at Madison Square Garden. A better overall effort which had to please coach Alain Vigneault. Derick Brassard scored twice and Ryan McDonagh matched a career high with three points including a power play goal and two assists. The Blueshirts were a perfect two-for-two on the power play. Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves including some big ones in a busy second for his 14th victory.
The best aspect of the win was the Blueshirts shutting down a good offensive team. They protected a one-goal lead after two periods by holding the Sens to three shots in the third. Ottawa played the night before rallying from two down to beat the Islanders 3-2 in overtime at home. Perhaps they got tired after a strong push in the second where they fired 13 shots on Lundqvist. They beat him once with Marc Methot getting a lucky bounce when his point shot went off Marc Staal past Lundqvist cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Lundqvist was at his finest during and after a Chris Kreider interference minor. He stoned dangerous second-year Senator Mark Stone from in tight. On a wild sequence with the team pinned in, Dylan McIlrath made a diving block of a shot. But an on rushing Dave Dziurynzki got to the loose puck firing a pea which a diving Lundqvist reached out and grabbed for a miraculous glove save. That one was a highlight reel which allowed his teammates to escape the period with a one-goal lead.
Limiting their opponent in the neutral zone with the kind of team defense we haven’t seen, the Rangers stood up at their blueline forcing turnovers. After forcing a turnover, McDonagh handed for partner Dan Girardi who passed back to the Rangers captain. He then sent a seeing eye rolling pass that got through to Brassard who broke in on Craig Anderson and went to a slap shot for his second of the game. His ninth from McDonagh and Girardi gave the Rangers some key insurance with 9:52 left.
Unable to get through an impenetrable Blueshirts defense, the Sens continued to force plays which resulted in turnovers. It was a smart period by the Garden hosts who made life easier on themselves outshooting the Sens 11-3 with Anderson in net. The 12th shot was taken by Jesper Fast, who put in the empty netter with 1:31 left. A nice reward for a hard working grinder who Vigneault trusts late in games.
This was a important win. Just to get some confidence with a big three-game Western Canadian trip coming with stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary between 12/9-12/12. It allowed them to move back into first place in the Metro Division one ahead of the Caps. They’ve played three more games (28). But to get a win the right way should help.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Dominic Moore, NYR (3 shots, dominant on face-offs going 12-and-1, +1 in 24 shifts-16:41)
2nd Star-Derick Brassard, NYR (2 goals incl. PPG and insurance marker, 5 SOG, 7 attempts, +1 in 22 shifts-16:30)
1st Star-Ryan McDonagh, NYR (matched career high with 3 points incl. PPG, 2 assists, strong overall, 3 blocks, +2 in 25 shifts-21:04)
Notes: Kreider was more active. Playing on a line with Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash, he had three shots and eight attempts missing the net on a couple of point blank chances. He had five hits in 23 shifts (16:06). The new line combined for nine shots, 20 attempts and a plus-15 shot differential. … Brassard played with Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. … Emerson Etem was a scratch with Tanner Glass playing a third straight. He took 16 shifts (8:47) recording three hits with a minus-one on the fourth line.
Key stats: Blocked shots NYR-24 (Girardi 5 Boyle 4) OTT-10 (Karlsson 3)
Faceoffs: NYR 35-and-20 (Moore 12-and-1 Lindberg 12-and-6)