Wow. The New York Rangers played a solid game tonight, and even though the bounces weren't going their way, they stuck with it and prevailed with two points. Evgeni Nabakov was locked in tonight and turned away 35 of the 37 shots the Rangers put his way.
The New York Rangers only had a few defensive lapses tonight, but played very well in the offensive zone tonight. Unfortunately, the New York Islanders were able to draw first blood as Michael Grabner sniped him his first shot of the night over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist. Colin McDonald threw a hopeful pass out front, and it landed right on the stick of Grabner, who made a nice little toe drag around Rick Nash and just barely picked the top right corner of the net.
The New York Ranger controlled a lot of the play in the first period, but the scoreboard didn't necessarily lean in their favor. The Rangers carried over the pressure into the second period, but again, defensive lapses were slowly eating away at the Rangers. Due to a slow back check, the Islanders took advantage by having one of their defenseman pinch in, and they would always find the trailer. Luckily, Henrik Lundqvist was up to par tonight, and turned away some pretty threatening chances from the Islanders.
Both teams had their chances in the second period, but Evgeni Nabakov continued to steal the show as he held a shutout through the first 40 minutes of the game. Even though the Rangers weren't getting the bounces to go their way throughout the game, the stuck with the game plan, and they eventually came away with the tying goal. Derek Stepan put a shot through traffic with just over five minutes to play in regulation, and Rick Nash got a piece of the puck as it flew by. The puck took a strange bounce off the side of Nabakov's hip, and rolled into the net.
Nassau Coliseum, which was jam packed with New York Ranger fans tonight, absolutely exploded following the goal. The Rangers were due for a goal like that all night long, and finally got yet another clutch goal from Rick Nash. Here's a fun little fact about Nash: All eight of his goals this season have come in the third period. Talk about a complete game changer.
There were some chances in the final five minutes, but you could tell both teams played a bit more preserving to get the extra point. And with that we went off to overtime which each team gaining a point in the standings, with the second one up for grabs. The Rangers went right to work as Rick Nash made a beautiful pass to Michael Del Zotto who pinched in from the point, and drew a penalty on the play.
Michael Grabner was the recipient of the penalty as he hauled down Del Zotto with a hook, which sent the Rangers to an early power play in overtime. Twenty seconds later, the puck was in the back of the net as Marian Gaborik, who was due breakout goal, ripped one home from the slot and beat Nabakov through the legs for the game winner. Ryan Callahan also deserves a ton of credit on this goal as he gave Nabakov little vision on the screen, and leaped at least two feet in the air to avoid the point shot from Gaborik.
The first point the Rangers grabbed was huge, and the second was that much bigger. As I said earlier, the Rangers stuck with it, and they were able to come away with the much needed win. That's now the Rangers fourth straight victory, and there are no signs of them slowing down anytime soon. The Rangers will be right back at it tomorrow night as they take on the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.