The Rangers played a pretty strong game last night against one of the best teams in the NHL and managed to come away with a victory. On the pregame show, Edie Olczyk said Henrik Lundqvist would need to steal this game. He did just that –even with a shaky goal in the second period– by making a lot of key saves in the final minutes to preserve the 3-2 lead. At the end of the game, Lundqvist made 35 saves for the win and looked like The King once again.
But it wasn’t just The King that won this game. The defense played a very steady game and held the dangerous Hawks to just two goals. They kept players like Kane, Hossa, Seabrook, Bickell, Shaw, and Versteeg off the score sheet. They capitalized on a weak Corey Crawford in the first period. They did what they needed to do for the win, and are now 6-2-1 in their last nine games.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Hawks 0
The Rangers defense did a good job of shutting down Patrick Kane at the blue line, then quickly transitioned to offense. D shuts down Kane at blue line and rangers transitioned. Marc Staal got the puck to Ryan Callahan, who hit Brad Richards on the near wing. Richards walked in on a 2-on-1 with Cally. Brent Seabrook took out the passing lane, but Crawford left the wickets wide enough for a train to pass through. Richards took a double take, wondering if Crawford was really daring him to shoot five-hole. He did, and it went through Crawford without even touching him. That’s how wide the hole was. Richards was probably thinking this the entire time.
Rangers 2, Hawks 0
This is a very bad goal by Crawford. He wants this back.
Hawks 1, Rangers 2
With the Hawks on the powerplay, Patrick Sharp took a shot from the point, which hit Dan Girardi in front and went right to Jonathan Toews for the easy rebound goal. Sometimes the Hawks just get lucky. One thing to notice is the formation here, as the Hawks are in the 1-3-1, forcing the Rangers into a diamond to protect the slot, point, and wing shots. Sometimes the middle man on the “3” is left with a little room.
Hawks 2, Rangers 2
Crawford gave up two softies. Hank gave up one softie. He has to stop this shot.
Rangers 3, Hawks 2
This goal was created by Carl Hagelin getting good position in front of the net on Nick Leddy. Once Marc Staal’s shot from the point gets through, Hagelin was able to get a good whack at the rebound as Leddy didn’t take the body and hacked at Hagelin’s skates.
As you could probably tell while watching the game, the Hawks were the dominant puck possession team the whole game. The Rangers jumped out to a two goal lead early because of two softies from Crawford, but the Hawks were the one with the ice tilted in their favor. In the end the Hawks wound up with a 53.6% Fenwick advantage, and the Rangers came away with a victory. I do want to focus on the third period, particularly to the steep uptick in shot attempts for the Rangers right before they flatlined for a while. That was one of the best powerplays I’ve seen in a while, but as soon as it was over the Hawks simply dominated play (partially because of a powerplay of their own).
It’s not often that we can say the Rangers went into the best’s house and beat the best, but that is what they did last night. They have a 6-2-1 record heading into Friday night’s game against the Dallas Stars, another tough team. With the way they’ve been playing, it looks like this team –that is finally healthy– is hitting their stride. They need to continue to win at this pace if they want to make the playoffs.