If there's one thing the New York Rangers learned tonight, it's not how you start the game, but rather how you finish it. The Rangers were dominant through the first half of the first period, but after climbing out to a 2-0 lead, things started to fall apart. Aside from the tying goal in the second period, Henrik Lundqvist played outstanding, and kept this one from slipping away with several key saves.
Rick Nash got things started tonight a little over six minutes into the game, right after he drew Henrik Zetterberg into taking a tripping penalty on the Red Wings power play. It may not have been the prettiest goal of his career, but being in the right spot at the right time can do wonders. Derick Brassard's point blast wound up taking a strange deflection off of Nash's rear end, and redirected in behind Jonas Gustavsson for the 1-0 lead. Following the goal, the Red Wings started to find their legs quite a bit, and were able to pressure the Rangers quite a bit.
Luckily for the Rangers, Lundqvist was locked in, and preserved the 1-0 lead heading into intermission. After keeping the Wings at bay to start the second period, the Rangers finally found their opportunity to pounce, and cashed in. Matt Hunwick was able to take advantage of terrible line change by the Red Wings, and quickly whipped a pass up toMartin St. Louis which sprung him on a breakaway.
St. Louis kept his eye on his target the whole way, never hesitated, and ripped a wrist shot through the five hole of Gustavsson to give the Rangers a commanding 2-0 lead. Little did we know, it wasn't all that commanding. A little over six minutes later, the Red Wings strung together two goals in a matter of 13 seconds, and just like that we were back to square one.
First it was Jakub Kindl who was able to pick up a loose puck in the high slot, and ripped a wicked wrist shot through traffic, which beat Lundqvist under the pad. Then just 13 seconds later, it was Daniel Cleary who tossed a puck on net from the corner, which Lundqvist somehow whiffed on, and the puck slipped under his arm. Initially, the referee behind the net never actually saw the puck go in, so play continued for another two minutes or so before they were able to officially review the play.
As devastating as it was, the Rangers didn't hang their heads, and eventually found their second lead of the night later on in the third period. Chris Kreider eventually found a loose puck in the neutral zone, and dished off a quick pass toDominic Moore, which sent him and Lee Stempniak in on an odd-man rush. Before Gustavsson or the defenseman could read the play, Moore tapped it over to Stempniak who essentially had a wide open net to shoot at. Making no mistake, Stempniak was able to snap the puck over the sprawled out Gustavsson, and decimated the water bottle in the process to give the Rangers at 3-2 lead.
Just as it looked like the Rangers were going to lock this game down, the officials had other plans. Their first masterpiece occurred when Martin St. Louis and Justin Abdelkader were battling in the corner, but yet, they managed to botch the penalties completely. I will never, ever understand how St. Louis receives a hooking penalty, meanwhile Abdelkader is assessed an embellishment penalty. If it's going to be called a dive, then essentially, it's not a hooking penalty. That's just the way I see it, and maybe you all do too.
Then about a minute later, Marc Staal is called for holding, meanwhile him and Pavel Datsyuk are tied up in net front battle. That eventually gave the Red Wings a two-man advantage with the goalie pulled, and they came away with the tying goal with 7.7 seconds remaining. Tomas Tatar received a beautiful feed from Andrej Nestrasil, and was able to flip the puck over Lundqvist who almost made it back in time to make the highlight reel save.
This game wound up heading to overtime, where just a minute in, the Rangers received a chance of their own with a Pavel Datsyuk tripping penalty. After some solid puck movement up top, St. Louis fed Dan Girardi for the point shot, and Gustavsson wasn't able to get a handle on the puck. The puck wound up coming loose at the side of the crease, where Derick Brassard came sliding in, and slammed the puck home for the game winner.
While it's disappointing that the game even made it to overtime, you can breathe a sigh of relief that the Rangers finally pulled out two points. As I mentioned last time, the Rangers are going through a rough stretch right now with injuries, so as long as they're able to string together points, everyone is happy. When they finally get everyone back healthy, then we'll start worrying how good they look during their wins.
The Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow, before they return to practice on Friday, followed by a trip up to Toronto to faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs.