The New York Rangers officially snapped their three game losing streak tonight at Madison Square Garden, with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. After a very lackluster road trip, the Rangers finally got back home and were ready to rock in front of their home crowd. However, once again, the Rangers got off to a slow start and allowed the Hurricanes to set the tone in their favor. That's something the Rangers really need to work on if they are going to string together a few wins.
As a result, the Hurricanes were able to open up the scoring tonight with an absolutely beautiful passing sequence between Joni Pitkanen and Eric Staal. Ryan McDonagh was just a step behind Staal as he received the cross-ice pass from Pitkanen, and he buried it past a sprawling Henrik Lundqvist. Speaking of Henrik Lundqvist, he played lights out tonight after letting in some questionable goals during the last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He definitely reeled in the victory tonight, and was stellar once again in the shootout.
If you saw the team that came out in the second period, and compared them to the first period, you would have thought it was a completely different team. There's one thing about John Tortorella that you can't take away from him, and that's getting his team going when he can smell victory. The Rangers didn't play so hot in the second period, but came out looking for blood in the second period.
With that increased pressure, the Rangers were able to knot up the game at 1-1, and came away with only their third goal in four games. Ryan Callahan made a few nifty moves behind the Hurricanes net, before lowering his shoulder and driving it to the crease. Joni Pitkanen gave Callahan a bump, which sent him into Dan Ellis, and set the puck into a wide open slot. Derek Stepan picked up the puck, turned around and was staring at a wide open cage. Without hesitating, he ripped it home, and just like that the game was tied.
That one goal alone, was a huge confidence booster for the New York Rangers, as you basically saw a collective sigh of the relief from the bench. As silly as it may seem, that goal sparked a fire under the Rangers, and they suddenly began to take control of this game as each minute passed by. After being miserably out shot in the first period, the Rangers turned that right around and controlled the shots 20-18 by the end of the second period.
While there was no scoring throughout the third period, it was definitely a lot of fun to watch. Both teams were basically trading the chances each rush down the ice. Michael Del Zotto was all over the ice tonight, in a very good way, as he's played his best sequence of hockey this entire season. He was very active in the both the offensive and defensive zone, and was making all of the right plays tonight. He receives a ton of grief from the fan base for his defensive gaffes, but tonight he deserved all the credit in the world. Just a solid game from him.
The Rangers got a much needed point in the standings with the game heading to overtime, and things began to heat up immensely. Rick Nash came right in off of the opening faceoff and ripped a shot on goal. Shortly after Nash made a ridiculous chip pass to cutting McDonagh, who came a few inches from sending the Hurricanes home early in overtime. Then came the Carolina Hurricanes who got a slew of chances from Alexander Semin, but overtime could not pronounce a winner.
Rick Nash did was Rick Nash does best, and made a nice Swedish drag type of move, and slipped it past Dan Ellis. Henrik Lundqvist was able to shutdown both Jiri Tlusty, and Alexander Semin, which left the game winning goal on the young J.T. Miller's stick.
So what does the rookie do? He goes and scores the game winning goal to give the Rangers the 2-1 victory in the shootout. But what's even better? Miller fumbled the puck on his move, but collected the puck, waited out Dan Ellis, and flipped it over the blocker. Miller has been praised for his calmness with the puck, and that goal is a prime example of his patience.
This was a huge confidence booster for the Rangers, as they were finally able to get back into the win column, and fought back after going down earlier in the game. With the New Jersey Devils on the table tomorrow night, this was definitely a game the Rangers needed under their belts. Good for them.