New York – The New York Rangers did everything right on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in game three against the Ottawa Senators. The Blueshirts were back on home ice and fed off the lively crowd and stormed past the Sens with a 4-1 victory to get back in the series. To say it was a “must win” for the Rangers would have been an understatement considering they were coming off a brutal loss on Saturday. The key for the Rangers was to come into the Garden and feed off the energy of the crowd and they did just that.
The Rangers have won seven of the last 10 playoff games they have played when trailing in a series, dating back to Game 5 of the Second Round against Washington in 2015. Each of the Rangers’ four forward lines tallied a goal in tonight’s game, and nine different Rangers forwards notched at least one point in the contest. Everything was clicking for the boys in blue tonight. The line that got it started for the Rangers was Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider. They were flying all over the place and it was Zuccarello that got the Rangers on the board just over five minutes in.
The Rangers kept their foot on the pedal and swarmed every chance they had. Craig Anderson summed up the way the Sens night was going to go as hey mishandled a puck behind the net and the speedy Michael Grabner swooped in and was able to steal it from Anderson and put in the net and the Rangers didn’t look back from there. Energy, speed and non-stop for checking is what the Rangers did tonight. By the end of the first period the Rangers had outshot the Senators 15-5.
Rick Nash, Oscar Lindberg also contributed with goals while Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in the contest. The Rangers penalty kill stepped up once again as they killed all three penalties against them as well. The second periods in this post season has been good to the Rangers as New York outscored Ottawa, 2-1, in the second period of tonight’s game. Through nine playoff games in 2017, the Rangers have outscored their opponents, 12-4, in the second period.
Head coach Alain Vigneault felt his team had a strong effort and discussed it by saying, “There’s no doubt that we played a strong game. Like I said prior to this game, I like the six periods also that we played in Ottawa. We came home, we were able to score a couple, get early pace, and win the game.” He also felt the extra day off between game 2 and 3 was beneficial, “I think the extra day off was very beneficial for us, both mentally and physically. I felt that we played well in Ottawa. We probably deserved better. That’s part of hockey. There’s no doubt that we had to bounce back tonight. We were able to get a good practice in yesterday and focus on our process and what we had to do. That’s what we did, we came to play. We won this game, now we’re going to focus on the next one.”
Zuccarello, who has been a major key part in these playoffs talked about the importance of this game by saying, “We played a solid first period and we came out strong. I think that we set the tone right away. I don’t think we played our best hockey in the second and the third. We have to improve on that, but we had a really good first period. We came out strong and that was good to see.”
Lundqvist talked about what type of message this sends for the team as they look forward to game 4 on Thursday, “I think most importantly it’s for ourselves to get back in the series here. It was a big game for us, no question. The day after we went home from Ottawa, it was a tough day. I think we felt like we played well enough to at least get one win. It was actually really good to get an extra day to kind of get away from everything and regroup and then yesterday we prepared for this game. I think everybody understood the importance of this one and we came out in the first period and set the tone. There is no question, I think, that we were the better team tonight. We played with speed, emotion, and determination. And we got it done, and it was great to see.”
The Rangers must now carry over this effort into Thursday’s game 4 in order to make this a best of three series and swing the momentum in their favor. They still face a tough challenge and still face a close to “must win” again. If they are able to replicate the performance on Thursday then it gives hope that this series swings back into the Rangers favor. A huge stat to look at is Craig Anderson has now allowed 9 goals in the last two games and the Rangers must capitalize on that as well. Game 4 takes place Thursday night at MSG at 7:30pm.
Oscar Lindbergtallied his first career NHL playoff goal, was credited with three hits, recorded two blocked shots, and posted a plus-one rating.
Tanner Glassrecorded an assist, was credited with three hits, and posted a plus-one rating in 10:00 of ice time. Glasshas recorded two points (one goal, one assist) in four playoff games this year.
Alain Vigneaultearned his 67th career NHL playoff win as a head coach in tonight’s game, passing Lindy Ruff for sole possession of 13th place on the league’s all-time playoff wins list among head coaches. He also earned his 30th career playoff win as the Rangers’ Head Coach in tonight’s contest, becoming the third head coach in franchise history to accomplish the feat. The only head coaches who have earned more career playoff wins with the Rangers than Vigneault has are Emile Francis (34) and Lester Patrick (32).