The New York Rangers were able to grab two huge points tonight in the shootout, and topped the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 3-2. Henrik Lundqvist played out his mind tonight, and easily stole this game for the New York Rangers. Mats Zuccarello came away with the shootout winner tonight, and the Rangers have moved into a three way tie for sixth place with the New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators.
The first period was a bit of a feeler period for the New York Rangers, as they had their backs up against the wall early on in this game. Henrik Lundqvist was spot on from the puck drop, and easily held the Rangers in this game throughout the first period. The Maple Leafs wound up outshooting the Rangers 11-8 in the first period, and they needed some sort of spark in the second period.
However, the Maple Leafs were able to strike very early into the second period, after a terrible miscue in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Ryan Callahan picked up the lose puck, but didn't see Phil Kessel right behind up, and he coughed up the puck. Kessel chipped the puck off of Callahan's stick, and the strange bounce fooled Lundqvist and just like it was 1-0 Leafs. Following the goal, the Rangers needed some kind of spark and Ryane Clowe dropped the gloves with Mark Fraser and attempted to lure the Rangers back into this game.
Whether the fight was a direct result of the goal several minutes later doesn't really matter, it matters than a guy like Ryane Clowe continues to go out of his way to get his team going. He's only been here since the trade deadline, and he's either standing up for teammates, or dropping the gloves to get them going. Either way, Carl Hagelin was able to knot this game up at 1-1 about halfway through the period, as he cashed in on a wide open rebound at the side of the net. After an aggressive forecheck by the Rangers, they were able to pin the Maple Leafs in the zone, which eventually led to a point shot by Ryan McDonagh. The shot took a strange bounce off of the bodies in front, and landed right on the stick of Carl Hagelin, who deposited the puck into the empty net.
That was a huge goal not only for the Rangers, but for Carl Hagelin as well. Hagelin hasn't scored in 11 games since going on his offensive tirade, and this was the type of goal that could potentially get him going again. After the goal, you could see that Hags had an extra jump in his step, and he gained tremendous confidence from that goal.
Just six minutes later, the Rangers were able to grab their first lead of the night as Ryan McDonagh threw a shot through traffic, and beat James Reimer. But before we get to the goal, how about the fantastic move that McDonagh made on Nazem Kadri at the blue line? The stutter step threw off Kadri as he went one way, and McDonagh went the other. Ryan Callahan set up the perfect screen in front of Reimer, and he never caught a glimpse of McDonagh's shot as it came through the traffic.
The Rangers found a way to get back into this one, and possessed a 2-1 lead heading into a big third period. Although, just eight minutes into the third period, Phil Kessel came away with his second goal of the game on a 2-on-1 rush. James van Reimsdyk made a great saucer pass over to Kessel, who chipped it over the sprawling Henrik Lundqvist. At first, many people thought Henrik Lundqvist actually made the save, as the puck got caught behind the padding in the net. However, after looking at the replay, the puck did actually cross the line, and it was a devastating goal to give up by the Rangers.
From that point on, this game turned into an all out goalie battle on both ends of the ice. Henrik Lundqvist and James Reimer were making save after save, and kept their respective teams in this game. The save of the night easily goes to Henrik Lundqvist, as he stopped a barrage of shots in overtime to keep the game alive. It's hard to explain how he got a piece of those, but we'll just leave it at that.
This game eventually headed to a shootout, where the Toronto Maple Leafs were winless in four attempts this season. Funny enough, the only goal scorer in this shootout was none other than Mats Zuccarello, as he came up big for the Rangers tonight. John Tortorella stated before the game that Zuccarello needed to put the puck in the back of the net, and he delivered at a perfect time. Henrik Lundqvist shut down all three Leafs shooters, and was able to preserve the 3-2 victory.
With this win, the Rangers now move into a three way tie for sixth place with the New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators. The Rangers next game will be against the New York Islanders on Long Island, which is expected to be a blood bath.