Well, the Rangers certainly did a nice job responding to my previous article.
Thursday night’s 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden featured everything the Rangers were not doing before, and what they needed to do to rekindle the magic they had to start the year.
First and foremost, they scored goals and put pressure on Lightning goalie Mike Smith all night. Second, they played a complete game, putting together a full 60 minutes of effort that resulted in a nice win.
Finally, guys that needed to improve their play did just that.
The power play for the Rangers was much better, going three for five over the course of the game. The home team capitalized on poor penalties taken by the Lightning, got pucks to the net, and put the Lightning defense on their heels. In addition, the penalty kill even got into the act with a shorthanded goal—their first of the season.
The Blueshirts also played for a full 60 minutes to earn the win. This Tampa team was much better than the one they saw in Prague to start the year. However, the Rangers were not thrown off, and did their job in all aspects of the game.
While the offense clicked, the defense also made several great plays to prevent great scoring chances. Martin St. Louis’ goal came on a great move, and Malone’s tally was one Lundqvist probably will tell you he should’ve stopped. However, Henrik played great in net and made some spectacular stops.
Several players who had struggled so far this season played vital roles in the win. Chris Drury stood out the most, netting a hat trick with three fantastic goals—two of them on the power play and one shorthanded on a great move.
Marc Staal scored his first goal of the season off a great shot from the point, after Tampa closed to within 3-2. While Prucha and Sjostrom didn’t score, their lines put some good pressure on the Lightning D and upped the Rangers tempo.
In addition, the Rangers controlled the game physically. While several players had big hits, one moment that clearly stood out was Aaron Voros’ play in front of the net. It was so similar to Sean Avery that Mike Smith got so enraged he started slashing and fighting Voros, and got called for nine minutes of penalties. Very good play by Voros—exactly what his team needed.
While there were still some things that could have been improved, such as defensive giveaways and silly penalties, the Rangers played a solid game overall, and it resulted in a win. Now the team needs to continue the momentum into the upcoming games against the Capitals and Oilers.
With four of their next six games at home, we’ll see if this team can win when and where it needs to.