This was one wild game. The Rangers dominated the Canes –except for the overtime– and needed a lucky bounce in the third period just to tie the game and send it to overtime. After that, it took a bad angle shot on a backup goalie off his angle to seal the deal and send the Rangers to the playoffs. This team is now 9-3-1 in April, and while we’ve said the bounces would start going their way, and it happened quite literally tonight. On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Canes 0
Michael Del Zotto started this with an outlet pass from inside the Rangers zone to Ryan Callahan at the Canes’ blue line. Cally touch passed it to Carl Hagelin, who took it to the half boards and hit a streaking Derek Stepan at the high slot. Nicolas Blanchard was the one that Stepan beat down the middle to get that wide open.
Rangers 2, Canes 0
Mats Zuccarello, who did a great job playing the agitator in this game, drew the ire of the Canes by tussling with Jeff Skinner. The little tussle drew the attention of Marc-Andre Bergeron. As all this is going on, the Rangers gained the zone and eventually worked the puck to the left face off circle. Derick Brassard skated behind the net, where Jiri Tlusty let Brassard go. After the puck took a few funny bounces, and with Zuccarello still drawing the attention of Bergeron, Brassard was able to skate around the net and pick up the loose puck and bury it into the empty net.
Canes 1, Rangers 2
With the Canes on the power play, Ryan McDonagh found himself in No Man’s Land as the Canes gained the zone. With Hagelin already pressuring Eric Staal on the entry, McDonagh attempted to pressure him as well. Staal simply dumped the puck laterally to Bergeron, and McDonagh’s misplay left Dan Girardi alone to cover both Tlusty and Skinner. After a nifty passing play, the puck was in the back of the net. Nothing Henrik Lundqvist could do.
Canes 2, Rangers 2
This goal is just baffling. The Rangers had Kevin Westgarth outnumbered on the boards by the Canes blue line by a four to one advantage. Inexplicably, Westgarth was able to move the puck up to Tuomo Ruutu, and the Canes had an easy two-on-one. Ruutu has a great shot, and this is another one where Hank had no chance. This goal begins and ends with that board battle that had Westgarth beat out four Rangers for the puck.
Canes 3, Rangers 2
Del Zotto made a nice pinch to keep the zone and take advantage of five Hurricanes deep, but his shot/pass to the middle took an unlucky bounce off Tlusty’s skate and right to Eric Staal. Staal and Tlusty came down two-on-one, with Staal getting the puck to Tlusty at the top of the circle. Tlusty teed it up and ripped it past Hank. No chance again.
Rangers 3, Canes 3
With the Rangers on the powerplay, they finally gain the zone and work the puck to Brad Richards for a shot from the point. The boards in Carolina are live, and the puck bounced off the boards right back out, and Dan Ellis actually kicked the puck in as he was resetting himself. Crazy bounce, but it’s about time the Rangers got one of those.
Rangers 4, Canes 3
Ryan. Callahan. Playoffs.
They are in. It took them 47 of 48 games, but they are in. The Senators won, they are in. With the win, the Rangers moved to the #7 seed in the East, since the Islanders lost. The Rangers have the tie breaker on the Sens, so if the Sens lose their game in hand on the Rangers, then the Rangers get the #6 seed.