Carl Hagelin notched his first career hat trick last night, giving the Rangers the much-needed offensive wake up call en route to a 4-2 victory over Winnipeg. Things weren’t so happy in the first period, when the Rangers squandered an early Hagelin goal by surrendering two quick ones to the Jets. But the Rangers persevered, tying the game eight minutes later and taking the lead with just six seconds left in the second. They did not look back.
Not lost in all this was Henrik Lundqvist, who made 30 saves in the victory. The win was the 301st of his career, tying him for the Rangers all-time record with Mike Richter. Lundqvist made the saves he needed to make, and was beaten on two shots that were goal-scorer goals. Kevin Klein also recorded a pair of assists in the contest.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Jets 0
After Brad Richards won the face off cleanly, Kevin Klein put a wrist shot on net that deflected off Benoit Pouliot and Carl Hagelin for the goal. The double deflection meant Ondrej Pavelec stood no chance.
Jets 1, Rangers 1
After some good sustained pressure from the Jets, Blake Wheeler took a shot from the face off circle that was stopped by Hank. The rebound was batted out of mid-air by Dustin Byfuglien from the corner of the net for the goal. There wasn’t much Dan Girardi or Ryan McDonagh could do here. Buff has a huge reach, and he whacked it out of the air.
Jets 2, Rangers 1
Hagelin gave the puck away in the neutral zone while the Rangers were changing. This game Michael Frolik a chance to get the puck to Bryan Little at the blue line, who drew both Hagelin and Anton Stralman to him before dishing to Andrew Ladd down the wing with room. Ladd’s shot was a rocket over Hank’s stick-side shoulder.
Rangers 2, Jets 2
Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider ran the play that has worked so well for them in the past for this goal. Stepan shot the puck off the boards to clear the zone, and Kreider used his speed to catch up to the puck for a chance from the wing. Kreider burned Zach Bogosian in the process and beat Pavelec short side.
Rangers 3, Jets 2
MSL came out of the box and had plenty of time to collect the puck in the corner of the offensive zone, turn around, and see what options he had. The first mistake by the Jets here was that Jacob Trouba followed MSL behind the net with less than ten seconds in the period. The second was that Bogosian didn’t turn to see Hagelin cutting to the slot. MSL made a beautiful pass that Hagelin was able to backhand past Pavelec.
Rangers 4, Jets 2
Richards intercepted Blake Wheeler’s keep of the zone and started a rush the other way with both teams changing. Hagelin joined the rush off the bench –great timing– to make the rush a 4-on-2. Richards fed Hagelin on the far side, who beat Al Montoya through the legs to complete the hat trick. Winnipeg fans might have wanted Wheeler to get that puck deeper, but it’s hard to fault him after a shift of sustained pressure.
Don’t be fooled by the win. The Rangers were dominated in the puck possession department by the Jets all night. They generated more offensive chances by a wide margin in all situations. The Rangers came out on top because of one word: Goaltending. Dave Maloney said it best after Hagelin’s third goal: “It comes down to the fact that your goaltender either stopped the shot or he didn’t. (Montoya) didn’t there.” It doesn’t matter how well you play, if you can’t stop pucks, you won’t win.
Win Expectancy Chart:
When Winnipeg scored two quick goals to answer the Rangers quick first goal, their win expectancy jumped to 75%. This is largely due to the fact they were the home team though (again, these charts only use goals, time left, and home/away in their calculations so far, they are still raw). Regardless, the Rangers didn’t give up, and they fought their way back to tie the game before the period ended. Hagelin’s game winner helped the Rangers jump to a 71.2% chance of winning, and his hat trick goal gave them a 97% chance of winning.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Rangers took advantage of Winnipeg’s biggest weakness (goaltending) and got two big points in a game they needed to win. The win gives them sole possession of second place in the Metro, but they have games in hand on both Philadelphia and Columbus. They play both teams this month, but they need to first build on this win against San Jose on Sunday.