Sometimes you win ugly. Sometimes you need to steal a win. The Rangers stole an ugly win in Florida yesterday, finding a way to win a game they had no business winning. With a shot attempt differential of 108-44, the Rangers were absolutely dominated by the Panthers, but it’s the playoffs. Just Win Baby.

The miracle came with Alex Wennberg all alone in front, a rare defensive breakdown by the Panthers, to tip a Ryan Lindgren shot past Sergei Bobrovsky. These kind of playoff games though aren’t always about the stats, the playoffs are all about who’s got the right play at the right position, at the right time. Wennberg was in the right spot at the right time, and the Rangers have a 2-1 series lead.

As the analytics go, Game 3 was a disaster across the board. Unable to sustain offense, unable to contain on defense, failing special teams. The only constant was Igor Shesterkin. Despite giving up 4 goals, Shesterkin is the readon why the Rangers won.

Per Natural Stat Trick, Shesterkin faced 15 high danger chances on those 108 shot attempts in all situations. including 41 shot attempts and 8 high danger chances in the third period alone. When the Rangers squandered their 4-2 lead in the third period, Igor was the rock that kept them in it.

A 33 save performance on 108 shot attempts seems low, but these were very difficult saves and Igor stole this one. It should be noted that the Rangers did block 37 shots, with Igor making 33 saves on 37 shots. Shesterkin was the reason the Rangers won, that’s abundantly clear.

On the other end of the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky was only able to stop 18 of 23 shots by the Rangers, a testament to the Blueshirts’ ability to capitalize on their chances. Alexis Lafreniere carried the Rangers and scored the goal of the playoffs, Barclay Goodrow continued to be the sniper we all knew he was, and Wennberg’s OT winner finally got him off the schneid.

But how about Lafreniere, eh? The leaps and bounds this kid has made to become the best secondary scoring option on the best scoring line in the playoffs has propelled the Rangers to where they are today. With Panarin getting double teamed and drawing the tough defensive assignments, he needed help. Vincent Trocheck is his usual self, but it’s been Lafreniere that has been the difference as Panarin tries to find open ice.

And we end with respect to Alex Wennberg, who has been an offensive black hole until last night. He’s been solid defensively, but offense has died on his stick. Wennberg became the first Rangers trade deadline acquisition to score a road OT winning goal in a Conference Final since, you guessed it, Stephane Matteau in 1994.

While I don’t suspect Wennberg will be breaking out into some hot goal streak, it’s finally nice that he was useful in more than just what he can do defensively. With a 2-1 series lead, let’s get that Game 4 win and go back to New York with a chance to play for the Stanley Cup!


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