On a night where the honored their franchise goalie, the Rangers showed that they can indeed fight back from a deficit against playoff caliber teams last night, coming back from down two early and down one late to come up with a huge two points against the Coyotes (no, not the Wild). After a sloppy start to the first, the Rangers bore down and clawed back with two straight of their own in the second. An unlucky goal gave the ‘Yotes a lead, but more life and heart was shown in the third as they pushed for the equalizer.
Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh played tremendous games. Just think, one was an undrafted free agent, and the other acquired in a trade for Scott Gomez. It’s only fitting that they scored the tying and winning goals, and generated a lot of offensive chances even when they weren’t putting pucks in the net. This was a solid effort by both against a desperate team.
On to the goals.
Yotes 1, Rangers 0
With the Yotes on the powerplay, Keith Yandle led the rush and found a wide open Oliver Ekman-Larsson behind the defense on the near side blue line. The Rangers were all cheating up the middle, leaving OEL with room to maneuver. OEL beat Henrik Lundqvist with a wicked wrist shot.
Yotes 2, Rangers 0
There were two issues on this goal. The first occurred when Jeff Halpern forced Derick Brassard into a neutral zone turnover. Afterwards, the Yotes generated some good offensive chances. Kyle Chipchura eventually collected the puck behind the net and found Halpern wide open in the slot for the easy goal. Mistake two here was Halpern’s ability to get that open, as Martin St. Louis didn’t notice Halpern behind him.
Rangers 1, Yotes 2
The Rangers gained the offensive zone and worked the puck behind the net. Brad Richards beelined for the front of the net as Carl Hagelin circled from the half boards to the high slot. Hagelin put a simple wrister on net that Richards deflected through Mike Smith for the goal.
Rangers 2, Yotes 2
This goal was created when the Rangers lucked out and Derek Morris made a pretty terrible turnover. Mats Zuccarello gathered the puck and his shot got blocked. The puck worked itself to Brassard low, who tried to hit MSL through the crease. Chris Summers blocked the attempt, but Smith played the pass and wound up out of position. A fortuitous bounce off Summers put the puck back on Brassard’s stick, and he rifled it into the open part of the net created from Smith playing the pass.
Yotes 3, Rangers 2
Chris Kreider had a rough shift on this one, and it’s probably what led to him being benched in the third. His shot –you know, the one from the high slot that tries to hit the far side of the net but goes wide– trapped four Rangers in the offensive zone as the Yotes were able to go on a 3-on-1 rush. To his credit, Kreider got back on defense, but he wound up deflecting Chipchura’s pass into the net. That shot has to hit the net, or else that rush doesn’t happen.
Rangers 3, Yotes 3
Girardi created his own good bounce here with a solid pinch to keep the zone. He wound up staying deep and heading to the front of the net where no one picked him up. He was left untouched to deflect McDonagh’s point shot past Thomas Greiss (in for the injured Smith) for the late tying goal.
Rangers 4, Yotes 3
Hagelin collected the puck in the defensive zone after a faceoff win and immediately raced down the seam to gain the zone. His shot was stopped, but the Rangers kept the pressure up. Hags gathered the puck behind the net, where he got the puck to Girardi at the top of the circle for an opportunity. Before the puck even left Hagelin’s stick, McDonagh crept down to the slot behind a pair of Yotes players. No one picked him up, and he was left untouched to tap in the ensuing rebound for the win and the huge two points.
The Rangers definitely came out sloppy in the first, as they should dominate puck possession against a team like Phoenix. They eventually got their acts together in the second and ran away with the puck possession game. Puck possession generally leads to goals, and that’s exactly what happened, as the Rangers outscored the Yotes 4-1 once they started controlling the play.
Win Expectancy Chart:
This chart is based on time remaining, score differential, and home ice. Home ice is why the Rangers actually wound up with the slight advantage after coming back from the two goal deficit. The biggest jump in this game came on the Girardi goal, which wound up moving the Rangers up from a 10.8% chance of winning to a 51.8% chance of winning. That’s a 41% jump on one goal.
With the Flyers loss last night, the Rangers now own second place in the Metro. The Flyers have two games in hand, but they are coming to town on Wednesday for a game that could decide home ice advantage in their eventual (and all but guaranteed at this point) first round matchup.