The New York Rangers put their hard hats on tonight, and came out with a huge 5-1 win against the East leading Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Despite the slow start in the opening few minutes, the Rangers were able to right the ship, and opened up the flood gates against Marc-Andre Fleury. Henrik Lundqvist was solid all game long, and kept the Rangers in the game with the early surge for the Penguins.
How about Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello? Talk about frustrating the Penguins all game long, and just getting right under their skin. Zuccarello was right in the middle of every scrum tonight, and almost dropped the gloves with Chris Kunitz had the referee's let them go. Kreider was also finishing his checks all game, including a few on Sidney Crosby, which apparently ticked off the Penguins bench.
Throughout the final half of the first period, the Rangers finally went to work on the Penguins. Ryan McDonagh would eventually cashed in with two minutes remaining off of a great effort coming from Brian Boyle. Boyle was able to outwork Olli Maatta behind the net, and chipped a pass out to McDonagh right in the high slot. A little over a minute later, Derek Stepan converted on a picture perfect saucer pass from Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello caught the Penguins off guard at the blue line, and tossed a cross ice pass to Stepan cutting through the middle, and he ripped it over the shoulder of Fleury for the 2-0 lead.
For a team that has been severely criticized for their goal scoring, the Rangers sure didn't look dry offensively tonight. Brian Boyle would eventually give the Rangers a 3-0 lead later on the second period with Brad Richards setting him up perfectly. One thing the Rangers did well tonight was backing up the Penguins defensemen, and gave themselves some extra space in front of the blue line.
After Kris Letang brought some life back to the Penguins bench, Ryan Callahan spoiled all of the fun with a goal of his own. Callahan's goal was a direct result of Alain Vigneault's net presence philosophy, and it worked to a tee. Both Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan wound up getting a stick on the puck, and gave Fleury a run for his money with the double deflection.
Derick Brassard finally put the game away midway through the third period as he chipped in a loose puck at the top of Fleury's crease. Derek Dorsett also made a spectacular play behind the net, and kept working to play the puck to the front of the net.
With the Rangers proving themselves tonight against the Penguins, the Rangers will have another opportunity to grab two more points on the road. They'll fly right into Columbus tonight for a battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow night. We'll sure see some familiar faces there.