The New York Rangers earned a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators last night, thanks entirely to four different players. Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves), Marian Gaborik (two goals), Derek Stepan (goal and an assist) and Artem Anisimov (two assists) were the big contributors in the Rangers' fifth-straight win of the season.
We talked earlier in the week about how Anisimov was using his defense to help create offense. He was at it again Wednesday night, with all three goals coming off direct contributions Anisimov made in the defensive zone. We also talked about the chemistry Stepan and Gaborik have been cultivating. That too was on display against the Senators with Stepan acquiring the primary assist on both of Gaborik's goals.
Join me after the jump for more analysis and some video evidence on why this line has been so successful for the Rangers.
If we take a look at the first goal, you will notice all three points I mentioned above the jump come into play to create the chance.
The entire play starts with Anisimov's brilliant defensive effort to force the turnover deep in the Ottawa zone. Then Stepan, who is trailing, takes the puck and located Gaborik streaking towards the open side of the net. Stepan waits until he has a lane, and puts a pass right onto Gaborik's tape for an easy finish to tie the game.
On the second goal, it's more of the same, but with Stepan playing the defensive role.
On this play, Stepan and Anisimov are deep, and Stepan is eventually the one to force the turnover. Anisimov picks up the loose puck and brings it directly to the net to try and stuff it in. Stepan recognized the loose puck after Craig Anderson made the original save, and drove in to finish for the Rangers' go-ahead goal.
And then we come back to Anisimov's defense starting the play on the third goal.
Anisimov's defense, against two Senators mind you, leads to Stepan and Gaborik moving in on a two-on-one. Stepan glides a soft pass to Gaborik in the neutral zone, stays wide and watches Gaborik rifle a picture-perfect shot into the back of the net for the Rangers' final goal of the contest.
The GAS line did everything it needed to in a big win over Ottawa but, more importantly, the three are becoming a lethal combination. Stepan always seems to know where Gaborik is, and Anisimov always seems to know where Stepan is. It's turned into some jaw-dropping performances the past two games, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
Maybe that's what makes it so exciting to watch, since Anisimov and Stepan are still so young and haven't even reached their potential yet.
Well that, and the five-game winning streak.