It may be starting to feel like a roller coaster. The New York Rangers came off a 3-0 loss last game to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning the Rangers came back on top. It was more of the type of play characteristic of the New York Rangers: quick on the puck, taking away the neutral zone, and constant aggressiveness.
The Rangers started off with a 1-0 deficit when Steven Stamkos put the Lightning on the board and tallied the first power play goal of the game. Stamkos has now scored goals in five consecutive games and continued to be a threat last night, but the Rangers did not let up and did not waste any time.
Blueshirts kept the pressure on and at 9:50 in the second period, Derek Stepan capitalized on a rebound goal coming immediately after Stamkos’ hooking penalty expired. This trend continued, with three solid scoring opportunities coming from Stepan, Nash, and Pyatt in the second period.
It was not until the third period that the Rangers would break the tie to make it 2-1. Rick Nash had the go-ahead goal at 3:04 in the third period. Powering right around Lightning defensemen, Victor Hedman, Nash had a wrap around goal beating the Bolts’ goalie, Mathieu Garon.
Martin Biron had two big saves in the third against Teddy Purcell, who challenged the Ranger’s backup three times late in the game. The Rangers continued to keep the pressure on and at 14:47 in the third Carl Hagelin went hard to the net and got a redirect goal making it his first goal of the season.
The Bolts pulled the goalie to put one more on the board with 21 seconds left in the third. Stamkos blasted one from the left point to make it 3-2, but this proved to be the Lightning’s last rebuttal. The Rangers would win the game in regulation to end the Lightning’s 5-game winning streak.
The Rangers did a great job at blocking out and stopping the Bolts from having a presence in front of the net all night. The puck protection and strength along the boards helped the Blueshirts to keep the puck off the sticks of their opponent and in the other end.
“I thought everybody gave effort,” Tortorella said. “I thought our whole team was much better as far as puck protection, on the boards, especially offensively. We had more offensive zone time and we find a way to win again.” (NHL.com)
The Rangers responded exactly to what was lacking in their last game against the Penguins. The aggression last night proved to be a key to pulling off the win. It all came down to taking away the neutral zone, a place where the Lightning are most dangerous because of the speed they generate, and also pressuring the Bolts’ in all areas of the rink. Taking away the boards and getting that extra stride on their opponent made it difficult for the Lightning to find any space to create offensive opportunities.
Last night was the first of three meetings this season against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers have registered a point in 13 of their last 16 games against the Lightning (9-3-4 over the span). It is also important to note that The Rangers posted a record of 15-3-2 against the Southeast Division last season, out-scoring their opponents, 67-42.
The Blueshirts are looking to get out of this up-down trend of games this Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. If the Rangers continue the type of play we saw last night, they will be well on their way past the .500 mark.