It was a hard fought, ugly victory, but it was a win nonetheless. The Rangers earned two points with solid defense, great goaltending and timely goals.
The Rangers off-season acquisitions of Wade Redden and Dmitri Kalinin seem to have helped New York's defense rely less on Henrik Lundqvist, but all in all goaltending won this game.
Lundqvist was outstanding keeping superstars Steve Stamkos, Vincent Lecalvier and Vaclav Prospal in check. Lundqvist stopped 20 shots and kept the Rangers in the game when their offense struggled for a good part of the game.
The Rangers opened the scoring, with a shot from a tough angle by veteran Markus Naslund. Naslund has been one of my favorites for years and he looks good in Rangers blue. The speed and play-making of Naslund seemed to give the Rangers a boost on the power-play, despite a one for seven showing.
The Rangers will need to improve power-play production this season if they want to make a deep playoff run. New Rangers Wade Redden and Markus Naslund will make this power-play more potent than it has been in the past.
Brandon Dubinsky scored the game-winning goal, on the power-play no less. Dubinsky will be relied on to have a very good season. Him and newly acquired Nikolai Zherdev seemed to develop nice chemistry on the ice today.
On the other side it was a bruising, close hard to swallow loss for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning loss this game with bad penalties, costly turnovers and an inability to convert on golden opportunities.
The Lightning's defense played better than people expected. It was the forwards who made the bad turnovers. Players like Jussi Jokinen, Radim Vrbata and Evgeny Artyukhin made costly turnovers in their own end giving the Rangers many scoring chances. Coach Barry Melrose will have to sure up his forwards two-way play.
Taking seven penalties is way too much against a very talented New York Rangers team. Veteran Gary Roberts took the costliest one, as Dubinsky tallied the game winning goal with the extra man advantage.
Despite being badly out-shot the Lightning did have many good chances. Steve Stamkos, Vincent Lecalvier and Martin St.Louis had numerous chances to put the puck in the net, but failed until Martin St. Louis finally put the puck in the net, which tied the game at one.
It may take a few months before the Lighining's revamped team can click, but the Rangers look very solid and geared for another deep playoff run.