The Rangers sure did come to play in this one. They did pretty much everything right in the game. They forechecked, they worked, they cycled, they shot, they passed, they played defense, they scored on the powerplay. They did everything. This was the most complete game we have seen the Rangers play all season, and it led to the season series sweep of the Lightning. On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Lightning 0
This is just a whole lot of mistakes coming together. The Lightning made a bad pass out of the zone that Ryan McDonagh intercepted at the Rangers blue line. Then Tampa Bay proceeded with a bad change. McDonagh hits Carl Hagelin with the pass, and then Keith Aulie blows a tire, creating a mini 2-on-1 for Hagelin and J.T. Miller. Hagelin stickhandles around him, and rips a shot that goes thru Mathieu Garon. I think that’s a shot Garon wants back. It can be said that Alex Killorn could have been in better position for the goal, but it was a make-shift 2-on-1 and Hagelin didn’t give Killorn much time to recover after Aulie fell.
Rangers 2, Lightning 0
The Rangers had another great shift on this goal, constantly cycling and getting great scoring chances. The puck eventually works back down to Ryan Callahan behind the net after a great pinch by Dan Girardi. Derek Stepan, who had been around the front of the net the whole time, and sneaks in the back door for the one-timer. Eric Brewer didn’t keep his head on a swivel, and thus didn’t see Stepan sneak in, Garon had no shot.
Lightning 1, Rangers 2
This is what the Lightning are capable of. An honest rush to gain the zone and the puck winds up on Eric Brewer’s stick. Marty St. Louis cuts to the middle, where Rick Nash can’t quite catch him. St. Louis gets his stick on Brewer’s shot and it deflects past Henrik Lundqvist. You could argue that Nash could’ve tied up St. Louis a bit more, but that ‘s a tough defensive play for even the best defensemen.
Rangers 3, Lightning 1
Yes folks, that was a powerplay goal. This is something I’ve tweeted about before, but it looks like the Rangers have altered their powerplay a bit. When the puck is up high, they run an umbrella, but once it hits the top of the circles, they switch to a 1-3-1, it helped generate chances.
On the goal, the Lightning got unlucky when their clearing attempt hit the linesman and they couldn’t change. Brad Richards gained the zone and the Rangers eventually get the puck to the net, where a mad scramble ensues. Miller, Cally, and Marc Staal were all around the net looking for the puck, and Aulie –who had a rough game– was down on the ice when the puck wound up behind him. Staal, with that long reach, tapped the puck in. There wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with what Tampa bay did, it was just unlucky that the clear didn’t go all the way down the ice.
Rangers 4, Lightning 1
After Hagelin gets the puck to Ryan McDonagh in the Rangers zone, McDonagh takes his time to get the puck up the ice. He finishes his part of the rush with a nice little chip pass to Richards, who broke in down the far boards. Nash, capping off his stellar game, just beat Marc-Andre Bergeron down the slot, and Richards hit him with a perfect pass. Once Nash gets the puck, he does what he does best, which is fake the Garon out of his jock and bury the goal.
This was the most complete game the Rangers have played all season. They were a bit too defensive in the third, but overall it was a great game. This is a game they can build on.