Henrik Lundqvist may not have had to make a lot of saves, 21 in total, but he had to make a bunch of difficult saves en route to his 50th shutout and a Rangers victory. With the shutout, Lundqvist has set his second Rangers record of the week, passing Eddie Giacomin for first all time in shutouts. Earlier this week, Hank passed Mike Richter for first all time in wins (302).
This wasn’t a dominating showing by the Rangers, but it was a solid defensive effort to come away with the two points. Aside from the eight goal explosion in Ottawa, a team that simply can’t play defense, the Rangers have been struggling a bit to score. But they have been playing hard-fought defensive battles over the past two games, and coming away with wins. These are the types of wins that you like to see as the playoffs near.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Devils 0
Chris Kreider made a good heads-up play to allow Anton Stralman’s clear to go past him at the Devils’ blue line. This allowed Nash to pick up the puck in a better position, and he then hit Derek Stepan in the high slot for a good chance. Stepan’s chance went wide with Kreider cutting to the net, and the puck ricocheted –rather quickly– to Nash along the boards. Kreider made incidental contact with Brodeur outside of the crease, but Mark Fayne made contact with Brodeur in the crease. Fayne prevented Marty from moving over, and that allowed Nash to bury the bad angle shot. Brodeur also looked to the ref after Kreider bumped him, which looked like it caused him to lose sight of where the puck went.
Rangers 2, Devils 0
Stepan with the empty netter, no breakdown required.
Fenwick Chart (even strength):
In terms of puck possession, the game wasn’t a dominating show by the Rangers. They held the even strength puck possession advantage for most of the game until the last minute or so. That’s expected when you’re defending the lead.
Win Expectancy Chart:
This chart is still a bit raw, as it only includes goals, time left, and home-ice. Based on that, Nash’s goal gave the Rangers a bump from 47.4% win expectancy to 68% win expectancy.
The win gives the Rangers a solid lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets for third place in the Atlantic. They now have a three point lead on Columbus with just ten games remaining. As long as the team continues to get points, that will be an incredibly difficult deficit to overcome. A date with the Flyers looks all but guaranteed at this point.