NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal with teammate Ryan Callahan #24 and Ruslan Fedotenko #26 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on November 29, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Alright, it was downright terrifying.
But the Rangers held on despite allowing a goal by Evgeni Malkin with 6.1 seconds left in the second period and then allowing former Ranger Pascal Dupuis to score early in the third to cut the lead to 4-3. But New York came together, kept the Penguins off the scoreboard and won a huge game.
It's not necessarily how the Rangers won -- although there were some positives in the win, including the Rangers shaking off a rough first period to blow the doors off in a four-goal second period -- but about who stepped up to get the Rangers the "W."
Brad Richards (goal and two assists), Marian Gaborik (goal and an assist) and Ryan Callahan (goal and an assist) all stepped up big for the Rangers, and scored some timely goals. But it's not just about the win itself.
Join me after the jump for more.
It's more about who the Rangers beat. With their win over the Penguins, the Rangers dominated both the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers while holding off Pittsburgh for a third straight win. Those are three of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and, not only that, but three of the more potent offenses in the NHL as well.
The Rangers' defense, which is still without Marc Staal, has stepped up; and while all deserve credit, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh have lead the charge. There's also Henrik Lundqvist, who earned his 10th win of the season last night and played very well in a 24-save effort.
The win proved to everyone (the Rangers included) that the team can win big games. Last night's effort was the toughest test of the season and New York responded valiantly. I don't know if last year's team would have held onto the slim lead late in the third, but this year's team is a different animal.
The offense is coming alive as well, with 12 goals in those three games after just one goal in the two losses to Montreal and Florida.
Part of that offense has been the play of Carl Hagelin, who continued to improve agains the Penguins. Hagelin dropped a perfect pass to John Mitchell who ripped a beautiful shot over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury for a 2-1 lead. Both Hagelin and Mitchell have a goal and two assists in their three games and have been gaining some chemistry because John Tortorella hasn't broken the duo up yet.
It's paid off, especially when the two are combining for goals like this.
Then there was Richards who rifled a shot into the top corner from the slot to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead and Gaborik cleaning up the mess in the crease to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead. Oh yeah, Gaborik also made two jaw-dropping moves before dishing a perfect pass to an open Callahan to open the scoring.
Richards' three-point effort raises his season total to nine goals and 10 assists on the year and Gaborik now has 11 goals and eight assists giving both players 19 points in 21 games played.
Sometimes hockey can be a game of confidence, and right now, the Rangers are a confident team.
Only good can come from that. Just look at Tuesday night's result.