Well, that's certainly more like it. The New York Rangers put together a solid 60 minute effort of hockey, and they come away with a 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden. Rick Nash was an absolute beast tonight, and practically out shot the Lightning by himself. Henrik Lundqvist wasn't tested early on, but he sure was locked in at the end, and shut down the Lightning's late surges.
The Rangers came out absolutely flying in the first period, and wound up out-shooting the Lightning 20-3 throughout the first twenty minutes. They forced the Lightning to make quick decisions, and they were beating them in all aspects of the rink. Carl Hagelin came away with the first goal of the game, after a quick turnaround in the neutral zone, and ripped a slap shot under the arm of Mathieu Garon. It only took another 1:20 for the Rangers to jump out to a 2-0 lead as Ryan Callahan set up Derek Stepan on the back door.
The goal developed from an aggressive forecheck and the Rangers kept the Lightning pinned in their zone. Following the goal by Stepan, B.J. Crombreen more or less jumped Stu Bickel on the ensuing faceoff, and Bickel had no choice by to drop his gloves. While it may not have been a good timing to fight, especially after all of the momentum the Rangers were carrying, but again, you just can't walk away from someone after they come after you.
Eight minutes later, the Lightning were able to to convert on their third shot of the game with a beautiful redirection from Martin St. Louis. While it may have only been their third shot on goal, it was just a perfect pass by Steven Stamkos, and an even better redirection by St. Louis.
Throughout the second period, the Rangers had a handful of power plays, and were able to capitalize on their third opportunity. Rick Nash was a key contributor on the power play tonight, and played a big part in Marc Staal's power play goal. Nash threw the puck on net, as J.T. Miller banged away at the rebound, and the puck slipped right out into the crease. Marc Staal was right on the doorstep, and slammed home the rebound for the 3-1 lead.
In the second half of the game, the Lightning began to turn up the pressure quite a bit, and gave Henrik Lundqvist quite the test. Luckily, the King was zoned in tonight, and was up to the task on every one of the Lightning's chances. The highlight of Hank's night was a beautiful stick save on Steven Stamkos as he ripped a one-timer from the left faceoff dot on a 2-on-1.
The Rangers played a much more conservative third period, and were able to maintain most of Tampa Bay's late pressure. With just under three minutes to play, Brad Richards made a great play in the neutral zone to spring himself and Rick Nash on an odd-man rush. Broadway Brad made a the great pass under the stick of the defenseman, and right onto the tape of Rick Nash who finished it off by faking Garon out of his pants on the move.
This was the exact type of game the Rangers needed to gain some confidence back, and this lineup is also capable of doing this night in and night out. While injuries were a weak excuse for the Rangers four game winning streak, no one can deny that having Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto back in the lineup helped quite a bit.
Speaking of Rick Nash, there are simply no words to describe what kind of talent this guy brings to the table. And it's not just in the offense zone, he's very responsible in the defensive end, and is great moving the puck up ice. Oh yeah, he had half as many shots as the entire Lightning team had tonight. That's pretty impressive if you ask me.
J.T Miller also had a solid performance tonight as well, and was very, very aggressive in the offensive zone. He also surprised some people who his moves tonight. The kid can play, and he's starting to sink into the big league. Brad Richards also had a big rebound game tonight, and was spectacular in the faceoff circle.
The Rangers will have two days off before they had back to Madison Square Garden to take on the Buffalo Sabres. With a healthy lineup, this team should be pretty fun to watch down the stretch.