Mar. 30, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers center Brad Richards (not pictured) scores a powerplay goal on Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
To start things off, Ryan Callahan was the recipient of this year's Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. You really can't argue that selection, as Callahan is the heart and sole of this Rangers hockey team. Callahan was definitely amped up after winning the award, that he was everywhere on the ice. He even made a key defensive play to break up and odd-man rush while on his stomach.
Marian Gaborik put the Rangers up 1-0 just nine minutes into the game, coming away with goal number 39 on the year. The line of Richards, Gaborik, and Hagelin was basically unstoppable during the first period. Every time down the ice, they created opportunity after opportunity. Henrik Lundqvist was tested late in the period, being surrounded after a rebound fell in his crease. Lundqvist was able to stand his ground, with the help of his teammates to keep the puck out of the net. Henrik has really looked great over the last couple of games, and he's finally back into normal form.
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On the carry over power play from the first period, the Rangers were able to make it 2-0. Brad Richards ripped a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Carey Price just over the pad. Ryan Callahan did an excellent job in front of the net giving Price absolutely no room to see the shot from up high.
The Rangers would carry over their constant pressure for a majority of the second period, until Montreal took over shortly after. The Canadiens began to amp up their forecheck, and they gave the Rangers little room to navigate. However, the Rangers were still able to limit the Canadiens chances, and wound up coming out of the second period with a well deserved 2-0 lead.
Henrik Lundqvist had another strong period, fighting off screens all period long, and still being able to get a piece of the shot. He really looked as if he was locked into playoff form that period, let's hope so! Brad Richards also kept up his dominance in the month of March by putting up his 21st point of the month on the power play. That point would put Richards just a single point behind league leading Evgeni Malkin for points in March.
The Rangers would get their fourth power play opportunity just eight minutes into the third period. Michael Del Zotto would blast a slap shot from the top of the point, and it squeaked through the five hole of Carey Price. That would be the Rangers second power play goal of the evening, after a solid night with the man advantage. Just eight minutes later, Michael Del Zotto put in his second goal of the nighty, of a beautiful play.
Marian Gaborik first attempt to get the puck to Mike Rupp failed, on a 2-on-1. He curled up and found the streaking Del Zotto, who came right off the bench. Del Zotto let an incredible wrist shot go that just found it's way under the crossbar. Some where all those Del Zotto haters are sitting quietly.
With just under three minutes to go in regulation, Rene Bourque snapped the shutout for Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist lost sight of the puck in the large scrum in front of the net, and it beat him low right, just under the pad. Chants of "Last place" and "Season's over" came raining down from the Garden faithful as the time neared it's end.
This was another solid effort for the Rangers tonight as they take their fourth straight victory. The also hold onto their five point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins as they found a way to beat the Buffalo Sabres tonight. This was one of the most complete games by the Rangers this season, and it came at a great time. The Rangers magic number also drops down to just three points in order for them to clinch the number one spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers will be back in action on Sunday as they take on the Boston Bruins on home ice once again.