After back-to-back losses to both the Montreal Canadiens and the Florida Panthers in which the New York Rangers only managed to score one goal, a big losing streak seemed possible. Especially since New York had the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers on the horizon.
But instead the Rangers parlayed those final two games into consecutive wins, both in convincing fashion to boot. The Rangers scored eight goals over the two-game span and got contributions from al over the ice, something we saw quite a bit of during the Rangers seven-game winning streak at the beginning of the month.
There were many positives from the two wins, but none might be more surprising than the play of rookie Carl Hagelin. When the Rangers re-called both Hagelin and John Mitchell John Tortorella wanted to inset both into the lineup as quickly as possible.
The rookie notched his first assist in the win over Washington and scored a brilliant "I'm not giving up until this puck is in the back of the net" goal against the Flyers to give the Rangers a needed two-goal cushion.
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Aside form Hagelin's play, Michael Del Zotto had one of his best defensive performances of the season against the Flyers. Del Zotto was effective all night in shutting down any Flyers in the offensive zone. Del Zotto also played well on the power play and would have scored a goal if not for a fantastic save by Sergei Bobrovsky.
Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi also deserve a lot of credit for the win over the Flyers. Both players were physical and did a fantastic job making sure players like Claude Giroux and Danny Briere didn't get any space to work with the puck at all.
Henrik Lundqvist also played a great game, and earned his second shutout of the year. Lundqvist has been big for the Rangers this year (and every other year he's graced this team) but his performance Saturday should give the Rangers a lot of momentum and confidence before they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Which is exactly what the Rangers need if they want to reel off another big winning streak.