The Rangers rode an offensively strong first period and turned it into a pretty dominant 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aside from a somewhat defensively suspect first period (which gave Lundqvist some nice practice time…) and a brain fart on the Lightning goal, this was as near to a complete game as you’ll get.
The Rangers had strong performances all over the ice. Led by Hagelin followed by Nash, Staal, Lundqvist, the fourth line and Ryan McDonagh, but in particular Girardi was up there with Hagelin displaying his exceptional decision making all game long. The Rangers controlled the boards, controlled the tempo and controlled a highly skilled team allowing them just 20 shots. This game makes you excited to be a Ranger fan as the depth really came to the fore tonight.
On to the breakdown folks.
1-0 Carl Hagelin 00:31
Following great work in the corners and along the boards Rick Nash circled in from the boards to just above the circles where he let off a shot which deflected twice up past Garon. Eventually Carl Hagelin would get the final touch as he went to the net trying to create a screen. The goal also featured a critical, timely pinch by Dan Girardi before Nash got the puck. The Rangers were eventually rewarded for doing so much right before the goal.
2-0 Ryan Callahan 15:31
Ryan Callahan scored the second as he broke in alone on Garon, faked the goalie and went to his right before sliding the puck past an over committed, beaten Garon. It was a nice skill finish from the all effort Rangers captain. Callahan showed nice speed to get the turned over puck and get in on the goalie quickly.
3-0 Carl Hagelin 9:58
Hagelin forced the Tampa goalie change midway through the second. Following a solid defensive play along the boards by Marc Staal who free the puck up ice, Hagelin took the puck, entered the Lightning zone along the left wing and allowed an odd man rush to develop, patiently waiting to shoot before beating Garon with a wrister. The goal showed great patience and puck skills to freeze the defenseman coming across as Hagelin took full advantage of two Rangers skating up ice with him.
3-1 Vinny Lecavalier 14:42
A comedy of errors saw the Lightning get on the board. The Rangers were almost guilty of another too many men penalty which initially resulted in a four on one (!) chance for Tampa. Eventually, after a couple of strong saves from Lundqvist – and amid chaos in front of him – Lecavalier was alone directly to Lundqvist’s right hand side to sweep it home as the Rangers goalie dived to try and make another save. Nothing the Swede could do on the goal other than sigh about the Rangers inability to make a change, clear the puck and find their men. A sloppy, sloppy goal to concede.
4-1 Aaron Asham 12:22
The Rangers generated another neutral zone turnover and turned it into a two on one breakaway which Aaron Asham converts off a great wrist shot up high past Lindback. Credit the goal to a strong play along the left boards from Darrell Powe who caused the turnover allowing Asham to skate in and pick his spot. Nice puck pressure and a nice finish from Asham for his first as a Ranger. It’s always nice to see the fourth line rewarded for strong play.
5-1 Rick Nash 19:51
What could make this win more complete? Rick Nash getting a goal. As the Rangers killed off the Kreider penalty Hagelin and Nash broke up ice and Hagelin flipped it left to Nash. Nash skated with the puck briefly before he wristed it short side past Lindback from thirty five feet. A wicked shot from a great breakout by the Rangers. Nash getting a much deserved goal was the perfect end to the Rangers best game of the season thus far.