NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Dan Girardi #5 and Brandon Prust #8 of the New York Rangers celebrate Girardi's second period goal against the Ottawa Senators in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers came out tonight, and were able to advance to the second round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs! Henrik Lundqvist played out of this world in the third period, as the Rangers were trapped in their zone for a majority of the time. Chris Kreider also played a heck of a game, and was easily the best forward on the ice for the New York Rangers tonight.
The Rangers had a jump to start the game, and quickly went to work on their forecheck. The had some great pressure in the opening minutes, and threw a ton of shots at Anderson. However, the Senators were able to build up some energy on their later power play. The Rangers and Lundqvist were able to hold off the strong pressure, and get out of the first period.
The Rangers came out flying once again, and were rewarded with a huge goal in the opening minutes. Derek Stepan made a perfect, and I meant perfect pass to Marc Staal who tapped it over the blocker of Craig Anderson. How about Derek Stepan? The kid has stepped up big time for the Rangers these last two games, after having a slow start to this post season.
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Just five minutes later, Dan Girardi gave the Rangers a huge 2-0 lead, as he slammed home a puck at the top of the crease. Brandon Dubinsky made a great move, and was able to slip the puck under the Senators defensemen, and over to Girardi. At that point in the game, the Rangers were all over the Senators in all aspects of the game.
Shortly after, Michael Del Zotto took a very undisciplined penalty on none other then Chris Neil. Del Zotto let Neil get the best of him, and he would sit two minutes for cross checking. The Senators were able to get on the board with a slap shot from Daniel Alfredsson on the ensuing power play. With that goal, the Senators once again took back the momentum from the Rangers, and went back on the attack. The Rangers once again fought off some late pressure by the Senators and take the 2-1 lead into the third period.
Let me take a second to talk about the hell of game Chris Kreider had. The way he played tonight, you would never know he came right out of college, and made the jump to the NHL level. Kreider played a physical game in the corners tonight, and was a hound on the puck. Kreider, and his line of Ryan Callahan, and Derek Stepan were able to gain a lot of energy tonight, as they constantly applied pressure in the offensive end.
With that said, the Rangers had 20 minutes of hockey to play in order to move onto the second round. The Senators didn't give up that easily, they had the Rangers trapped in their zone for two minutes a time during the third period, but the Rangers found a way to survive. The Rangers owe Henrik Lundqvist about five dinners after he came up HUGE for the Rangers in the final three minutes of the game.
The final buzzer sounded, and the Rangers were headed to the second round, where they will face-off against the Washington Capitals. The Rangers gave the Garden crowd a well deserved stick salute, before they prepare for next week. Keep growing your playoff beards, we're in for another round of this! Let's go Rangers!!