In the NHL Playoffs, you need all 18 or 19 skaters to win. It doesn’t matter who as long as you get contributions throughout your lineup. The Rangers haven’t gotten ideal performances from a few of their top scorers. However, they have gotten plenty from role players who make up the supporting cast.
Thanks to big games from Oscar Lindberg and Tanner Glass, the Rangers won Game 4 in convincing fashion 4-1 at MSG. Lindberg’s two goals and Glass’s two assists helped them pull away from the Senators in a big second period. The play of the fourth line since coach Alain Vigneault inserted Glass has been superb. J.T. Miller is also on that line providing some skill. It’s worked out well with Miller also contributing a primary assist on Lindberg’s second of the night.
The Rangers have been able to tie the best-of-seven Atlantic Final by paying better attention to detail and playing with more edge. They gave Henrik Lundqvist a breather. He didn’t need to be the team’s best player the last two games- both by identical 4-1 scores in improving to 4-1 at MSG this postseason. He only had to contend with 23 Ottawa shots getting 22 to record his 61st career postseason win.
They didn’t dominate the first period. Ottawa showed more determination trying to establish its forecheck and create turnovers off their 1-3-1 in the neutral zone. However, the Rangers defended well in front of Lundqvist for a second straight game not allowing the Sens to get the kind of Grade A chances needed to beat him.
The Rangers methodically outplayed the Senators as the period wore on. Michael Grabner had the first of two breakaways but a sharp Craig Anderson got his blocker on a high shot to rob him. For a second consecutive game, Ottawa had issues with turnovers. They gave up some odd-man rushes forcing Anderson to be good. He couldn’t stop Nick Holden on a two-on-one. Kevin Hayes passed for a cutting Holden, who was able to deke before going to the forehand to beat Anderson for the game’s first goal with 5:56 left. A big one for sure that gave them momentum.
After out-shooting Ottawa 11-7, the Rangers came out even better in a lopsided second. They were still on a power play courtesy of Zack Smith, who got an extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct while mixing it up with Brady Skjei. The Sens began to crack as the game went on. Anderson made a good save to deny Chris Kreider on a rebound right in front, keeping the game at 1-0.
But not long after the power play expired, Glass started a three-on-two in the neutral zone. His pass for Grabner off an Ottawa giveaway led to the speed demon having his second breakaway. But as the play developed, Grabner patiently waited for the trailing Lindberg making a nice dish across for a beautiful one-timer top shelf for a 2-0 lead at 2:01. There wasn’t much real estate. But Lindberg got all of it for his second of the postseason. He wasn’t done.
If there was an area that got overlooked, it was the Rangers penalty kill. With Brendan Smith off for cross checking, they blanketed the Senators following Lindberg’s goal. Ottawa was unable to get any sustained pressure. Instead, it was a disciplined Blueshirts who took away the blue line forcing the Sens into mistakes and sending the puck down to cheers. They didn’t have many chances either only getting two power plays. That was due in large part to how well the Rangers executed.
When they weren’t testing Anderson, who made some strong stops before giving way to backup Mike Condon for the third, the Rangers were frustrating their opponent. Mats Zuccarello was up to his old tricks. During a scrum, he tapped Marc Methot who responded with a right drawing an undisciplined minor penalty for roughing. But while on the man-advantage, Zuccarello got tangled up with Erik Karlsson leading to both going off for holding. In an interesting move, Ottawa coach Guy Boucher decided to rest Karlsson in the third once his team trailed by three. He also gave Anderson a breather.
The goal that made Boucher’s decision easier came when Lindberg was the recipient of a nice pass from Miller. He let go of a long shot that fooled Anderson, who was distracted by Glass in front. That’s the only rational explanation he allowed it. Glass made the play behind the net to keep the puck alive to Miller. He then went right to the net and seemed to be talking to Anderson as Lindberg’s shot buzzed by for a 3-0 lead with 4:06 remaining. That’s how effective Glass was. In five games, he now is up to a goal and three assists.
Even though Ottawa came out of the period even in shots (9-9), they were down by three. Lundqvist never had to make any tough saves. He was able to see the puck and the Rangers did a good job boxing out.
With Condon replacing Anderson and Karlsson sitting out, Boucher basically decided to think ahead to Game 5 which is Saturday afternoon in Ottawa. He went with five D and rolled his four lines. The most effective was again centered by the pesky Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He nearly had his sixth of the series on an extended shift only to see Lundqvist make a last second sprawling kick save to chants of “Hen-rik, Hen-rik!!!!!” from the crowd.
The Rangers sat back a little bit in a 1-3-1. That gave the Sens some opportunities they didn’t have the first two periods. But Lundqvist made some key stops when needed. The defense remained good with both D and forwards continuing to get sticks on loose pucks further flustering their opponent.
A Clarke MacArthur hooking minor led directly to Kreider scoring a power play goal that made it a four-goal lead for the Rangers coming with 9:15 to go. Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh combined to find Kreider, who walked in and let go of a wrist shot that beat Condon for his second of the series.
Kyle Turris was able to break the shutout when he pulled up and beat Lundqvist high stick side to cut it to 4-1 with 6:26 remaining. It was a stoppable shot but Lundqvist misplayed the angle. His only mistake.
With the game out of reach, tempers flared. First, Dion Phaneuf made a tough hit on Smith into the Ottawa bench where there wasn’t a lot of protection. Never one to shy away, Smith dropped the gloves and got the take down against Phaneuf. Both received seven penalty minutes. Two for holding and five for fighting. I’m not sure how Smith got an extra two. He was hit by Phaneuf to start with. But the refs got both off the ice for the remainder with Smith exiting to cheers.
On a four-on-four, Lundqvist made one more big save to deny a breakaway bid getting the familiar chants from the fans. Some included a few from Ottawa who made the trip. They put with a lot in our section. But gave it right back and had fun despite their team losing. The Canadian fan is a different breed.
The game spiraled out of control when Bobby Ryan went after Dan Girardi giving him a mean slash to earn two minutes along with a misconduct. It wasn’t a surprise. Ottawa had shown frustration the whole period. You knew it was only a matter of time before they started in. When you have one of their bigger guys going after the Rangers’ smallest in Zuccarello during a scrum, you know things are about to get ugly.
It’s all part of the playoffs. Ottawa wanted to send a message. And so, they did. That included Glass fighting Turris with 23 seconds left along with some rough stuff three seconds later from Mark Stone, Alex Burrows (go figure), Methot and Viktor Stalberg. Miller, Holden and Kreider all were involved as was Lindberg.
In the end, it was just bookkeeping. The Senators totaled 17 penalties for 56 penalty minutes with 48 coming in the third along with 13 penalties. The Rangers finished with 11 penalties for 36 minutes.
Most importantly, they got the win doing it the right way. By taking apart the Senators and winning without any issue. They certainly have to be happy with where they are now. Tied 2-2 with a crucial Game 5 in two days. The job isn’t finished. Something Vigneault was quick to remind in the post game.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Michael Grabner, Rangers (primary assist on Lindberg’s first which set the tone, two breakaways, strong defensively, +2 in 22 shifts-13:05)
2nd Star-Tanner Glass, Rangers (2 assists along with big distraction on Lindberg’s second goal, +1 in 21 shifts-10:16 with 5 PIM and 7 hits)
1st Star-Oscar Lindberg, Rangers (2 goals including GWG-2nd and 3rd of postseason, dominant throughout, 3 shots, +2 in 22 shifts-10:56)
Notes: The Rangers held a 30-23 edge in shots. Attempts were 58-57 Rangers. … The Blueshirts blocked 22 shots including a game high seven from Girardi, who saved a goal on Pageau. The Sens had 12 blocks led by Pageau and Ceci’s three. … Face-offs went to Ottawa 35-30 with Pageau 13-and-11 while an otherwise silent Derick Brassard was 8-and-5. Stepan led the Blueshirts finishing 11-and-10 with Lindberg going .500 (4-for-8). Key Stat: Takeaways OTT 6 NYR 10 (Rick Nash 3). Nash had it going throughout getting five shots in seven attempts. Despite not scoring, he was a factor. … With an assist and five shots, Stepan has points in three straight. … Hayes assist was his second point of the playoffs. … Anderson allowed three goals on 20 shots in 40 minutes before replacement Condon relieved in the third making nine saves on 10 shots.
… Able to roll his six D with McDonagh (assist) topping all skaters with 25:14 in 30 shifts, Vigneault didn’t overwork Girardi (17:47) or Marc Staal (+2 in 18:33-+4 last 2 games). Holden recorded his first playoff goal as a Ranger while logging 19:42 with six hits, three blocks and five attempts in 29 shifts. Smith went +1 in 17:00 before exiting due to his scrap with Phaneuf. Skjei logged 18:16 over 26 shifts with a minor penalty and three blocks. … In sitting out the third, Karlsson took 22 shifts logging just 14:54 while going minus-one with one shot in three attempts. In Games 3 and 4, he went minus-four without a point. How healthy is he?