The New York Rangers came away with two big points tonight against the Winnipeg Jets, as they continue to chip away in the playoff race. Henrik Lundqvist was solid in net for the Rangers, and Ryan Callahan came away with four points as he led his Rangers all night long.
The Rangers were often criticized for their demoralizing starts, and they quieted the haters in this with, as Derek Stepan potted the early goal, just 19 seconds after the puck drop. Rick Nash makes a great play along the boards to spring Ryan Callahan, and Callahan slips it over to lead Stepan on a partial breakaway. A quicker wrister from Stepan, and it's 1-0 Rangers from the start. Although, as quickly as the Rangers got on the board themselves, the Winnipeg Jets jumped right back into this game just a minute later.
A defensive miscue by Steve Eminger and Roman Hamrlik left Nik Antropov wide open in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Antropov made a few head fakes before slipping it through the five hole, and quieting an rowdy Garden crowd that was high on their teams quick goal. The game began to settled down a bit, as both teams began to tighten it up on defense. Zach Bogosian would wind up giving the Winnipeg Jets a 2-1 lead late in the first period, with an absolute bomb of a shot, that deflected off of Anton Stralman's right skate, and skipped past Lundqvist. It was yet another defensive lapse that led to the goal, as J.T. Miller didn't pick up his point man off of the faceoff, which allowed Bogosian to get off a clean, uncontested shot from the blue line.
The second period started out as bad as it possibly could have for the Rangers, as both Mats Zuccarello and Dan Girardi took two penalties a minute apart to give the Jets a 5-on-3 advantage. Luckily for the Rangers, the Jets were hesitating to get shots through from the point men, which eventually lead to Ryan Callahan's beautiful game tying goal. As Zuccarello came flying out of the penalty box, he pressured the puck, which allowed Callahan to swoop in and create a 2-on-1 rush. With a nifty toe drag, Callahan out waited the defender, went to his back hand, and slipped it over a sprawling Ondrej Pavelec, to tie this game up a 2-2. It was a huge goal for the captain, and it was the goal that fueled the Rangers for the rest of the game.
The Rangers would start out the third period knotted at 2-2, until Derek Stepan, who has been absolutely lights out this season, put the Rangers ahead just five minutes into the third period. Anton Stralman's point shot made it through a bunch of traffic in front, as Derek Stepan slipped behind Zach Bogosian undetected. The rebound popped right out to Stepan, who threw it back on net and made it 3-2 Rangers. Eight minutes later, the flood gates opened right up as Rick Nash walked in, hesitated, and ripped a low snap shot under the blocker of Pavelec to give the Rangers the two goal cushion in the third period.
The Rangers would eventually hold on, and come away with two huge points in the standings. The Islanders also topped the Devils tonight in regulation, which brings both teams closer to the Devils. The Rangers also have a game in hand on both teams as well heading into Wednesday against Pittsburgh.