The New York Rangers didn’t play their best game last night. They didn’t play their prettiest game last night. They looked like a team that was on the second of a back-to-back after a tough run against five playoff teams. But yet, they still found a way to beat the Florida Panthers in regulation by a score of 2-1. Cam Talbot was the story of this game, again, making a whopping 38 saves in the win.
While Talbot was sensational, it wasn’t all goaltending for the Rangers. The fourth line of James Sheppard-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast carried the Blueshirts, scoring both goals and doing a fantastic job in the defensive end. Rick Nash did Rick Nash things in the first period, but it was the fourth line, without Tanner Glass, that scored twice and –along with Talbot– won the game for the Rangers.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Panthers 0
The fourth line did their grinding here, and Sheppard made a good play to get the puck from behind the net to the point and then go to the net. Matt Hunwick’s shot deflected off Moore and right to Sheppard, who scored for his first goal as a Ranger.
Rangers 2, Panthers 0
The fourth line was at it again, this time retaining possession on the zone entry, and using their solid board work to move the puck around. The puck got to Ryan McDonagh, who pinched and took a hit to keep the zone. Fast and Moore went to work low, and after moving the puck from behind the net to Moore, Fast cut to the net. Moore found Hunwick at the mid-point, wide open, who ripped the shot through the Fast screen for his first as a Ranger.
Panthers 1, Rangers 2
I’d consider this to be a bad goal by Talbot. Brandon Pirri kicked the puck to his stick at a bad angle –following a faceoff win– and beat a surprised Talbot. Talbot was slow to react due to the screen.
Unblocked Shot Attempts (USAT)/Fenwick Chart:
The Panthers doubled up on the Rangers in terms of shot attempts. Team defense –in terms of shot blocks– and Cam Talbot kept this game in the Rangers’ favor though. Usually a lopsided chart like this means a win for the Panthers, but Super-Cam was here to save the day.
The Panthers also doubled up on the Rangers in quality scoring chances, which makes sense since there was such a huge gap in shot attempts, you expect there to be a huge gap in quality chances too.
Shot Attempts (SAT)/Corsi Chart (Individuals):
This is pretty expected, with all of the Rangers in the negatives individually.
When you give up 80+ shot attempts, you’re going to see a chart like this one. This isn’t surprising.
This is normal Vigneault for you, with Girardi/McDonagh getting the tough matchups.
It wasn’t all positive last night. Martin St. Louis left the game in the third period with a right knee injury. There has been no update as of yet.
The Rnagers have now allowed one goal or fewer in their past five games and six of the past seven. Team defense and –more importantly– goaltending have been huge while the offense dries up a bit. The Rangers are now five points up on the Islanders with 95 points, and still have three games in hand. They are also two points up on Montreal with a game in hand for the Presidents Trophy (two games in hand on Nashville/Anaheim with same point spread). The Rangers just keep on winning.