The Rangers righted the ship in a big way tonight, routing the Panthers 6-1 in a must win game. The Blueshirts came out firing, and just completely dominated the Cats in every facet of the game. By the time the middle of the third period rolled around, it was clear that the Panthers had given up, as their breakdowns became more egregious and their effort level tanked completely. Their loss is the Rangers’ gain, as they got a much-needed two points. On to the goals, and again there will be no pictures, as life is getting in the way of it again. Sorry for that.
Rangers 1, Panthers 0
While on the powerplay the Rangers worked the puck deep, and an eventual shot by Ryan Callahan went wide. Rick Nash went to get the puck behind the net, and Derick Brassard –who initially fed the puck to Cally for the shot– went to the front of the net. Both Tomas Fleischmann and Jack Skille left Brassard unaccounted for in front, and once Nash got the puck to the slot, it was a simple tap in for Brassard.
Rangers 2, Panthers 0
Again on the powerplay, the Rangers gain the zone and Tomas Kopecky doesn’t pick up Nash circling in from the blue line on the weak side. Cally’s pass was perfect right to Nash at the weak side face off dot, and Nash doesn’t miss from that angle, especially with that much room to shoot. Kopecky didn’t realize he was there until he was by him.
Panthers 1, Rangers 2
There’s not much to break down here. Jonathan Huberdeau is stupid good. He made Mats Zuccarello look silly, then ripped a perfect shot past Henrik Lundqvist. Not much they can do there.
Rangers 3, Panthers 1
T.J. Brennan and Shawn Matthias forgot about their assignments on this goal. They left Zucc all alone in front with about a 5 mile radius on either side. Ryane Clowe, who was behind the net, hit Zucc with the pass, and Zucc had all day to roof the puck. While Brennan and Matthias blew the coverage, this goal happened because of a great cycle and puck possession on the shift.
Rangers 4, Panthers 1
Alex Petrovic blew a tire with the puck in the Rangers zone, leading to a two on two rush up the ice with Zuccarello and Brad Richards. Richards eventually cross over the slot to the weak side and carried the puck to the goal line, where he threw the puck on net. The puck bounced off Zucc’s skate and in the net. Good things happen when you are a) in front of the net, and b) throw the puck to the net.
Rangers 5, Panthers 1
Like the third Rangers goal, this was goal was a product of another shift with good zone pressure. With Nash in control of the puck behind the net, he moved out and dished the puck to Michael Del Zotto at the strong side face off dot, and MDZ carried the puck low. When that pass happened, Brassard shook Eric Gudbranson in front and moved up a bit to put himself in a position to shoot. MDZ fed him perfectly, and Brassard ripped it home off the post. Brassard made this happen by putting himself in a position to shoot and giving MDZ a stick blade to hit with a pass.
Rangers 6, Panthers 1
This was a great individual effort by Brad Richards to get his own rebound and carry the puck behind the net for the stuff-in goal. T.J. Brennan was again victimized for his defensive gaffe, as he pretty much left Richards alone once they crossed the goal line.
This was a huge two points for the Rangers, who kept pace with both the Islanders (who won), and the Jets (winning as of this post’s publication). The Blueshirts have a date with the Sabres in Buffalo tomorrow, and that is another game from which the Rangers must get two points. Every point matters, but if the Jets and Islanders keep winning, then points matter less than wins, whether in regulation or the shootout.