At the start of the game, when the Canes were dominating and the Rangers were struggling to find any semblance of consistency on the ice, we were all thinking that this was a trap game. Low and behold, the Rangers got themselves together and blew out the Canes with all five goals coming from just two guys who hadn’t scored all season. Carl Hagelin (2) and Derek Stepan (3) scored the five goals. Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello had three assists a piece, and Henrik Lundqvist did his thing in the 5-1 win.
As the winning streak stretches to three games and four in five, we have to point out that the systems are starting to click. This club is no longer a split second behind, and is no longer thinking about what they need to do. They just do it. That split second means a whole lot.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Canes 0
With the Canes pressuring, the Rangers had a great overall team effort along the boards in the defensive zone to gain possession of the puck. Brad Richards worked the puck to Benoit Pouliot to start a 2-on-2 break. Pouliot dished the puck to Hagelin out wide, and then charged to the net while Hagelin circled to the slot. Pouliot’s charge to the net gave Hagelin a little room, but neither Ryan Murphy nor Jay Harrison followed Pouliot down low. Justin Peters has to be cognizant of Pouliot in front, and it appears he expected Hagelin’s backhand shot to be a pass to Pouliot. Instead, it wound up in the back of the net.
Rangers 2, Canes 0
After the Rangers kill a Carl Hagelin penalty (that saved a goal), they clear the zone right as the penalty expires, giving Hagelin a head start to the puck in the offensive zone. Peters mishandled the puck a bit, and Hags was able to pick the puck up at the goal line, cut in, and slide it under Peters’ stick. If you look closely at the picture, Peters didn’t have his paddle down flush with the ice, and Hags hit that hole.
Rangers 3, Canes 0
Another powerplay goal for the Rangers. After a face off win, the Rangers worked the puck along the boards, and found Ryan McDonagh at the point wide open. McDoangh ripped one on net with Chris Kreider in front, and Peters was unable to control the rebound. The resulting scramble led to Derek Stepan finding the puck on the doorstep for the goal.
Canes 1, Rangers 3
This time around, it was the Canes who scored on the powerplay. After moving the puck to Andrej Sekera at the weak side boards, the Rangers began shifting from a diamond to what appeared to be a box (most teams shift PK styles based on puck location). Sekera’s soft wrist shot appeared to deflect off Anton Stralman past Hank. It looked like Stralman may have been drifting a bit, but it’s tough to tell. He wasn’t in No Man’s Land, but he wasn’t on the guy in front.
Rangers 4, Canes 1
The line of Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello had a fantastic game tonight. This line had one of their several great shifts, forcing Carolina to run around the defensive zone. Eventually, Kreider is able to beat Justin Faulk and
Mike Komisarek the other defenseman (boy, was I tired last night) to the puck at the boards and chip it to Zuccarello behind the net. Stepan, who wasn’t being covered by Elias Lindholm, cut to the net and receive the beautiful pass from Zucc for the one-timer goal.
Rangers 5, Canes 1
There was a whole lotta fail on this one by the Canes. First off, Jordan Staal, Tuomo Ruutu, and Radek Dvorak all forgot to backcheck and were just watching this develop. Faulk cut over too far on Zuccarello, leaving Sekera in a tough spot between Kreider and Stepan. Sekera can’t challenge Stepan directly or else Kreider is wide open, and can’t commit to Kreider because Stepan would have a wide open shot. He actually played this relatively well, all things considered, but Stepan’s shot deflected off him and behind Peters for the hat trick.
From the chart (courtesy of ExtraSkater), you can see how badly outplayed the Rangers were in the first period. At one point, Carolina had more than double the amount of Fenwick chances than the Rangers. But as the first came to a close, New York started tilting the ice the other way, and eventually ran away with puck possession.
The Rangers are now officially on a winning streak. This was another complete game by the Rangers, who dominated the Canes despite a slow start in the first period. With wins against the Islanders, Sabres, and Canes, the Rangers did what they needed to do against mediocre and bad clubs. Now the schedule gets tough as the Ducks and Penguins come to town on Monday and Wednesday. The six points –and eight of ten– were critical to the Rangers getting back on track.