The Rangers started off last night's game in the best possible way by scoring 3 goals in first 7 minutes of the first period. The Blueshirts' offense in the period came on the rush and from all over the lineup, 9 different Rangers picked up points on the club's 3 first period goals. Ryan McDonagh scored his first of the season to start things off thanks to a gorgeous pass from Jesper Fast. Less than a minute later Derek Stepan sent in J.T. Miller who picked up his third of the season with a gorgeous move to undress Ryan Miller. The Rangers' third goal came from the Nash line from the stick of Zuke. The best part of Zuccarello's goal was the fact that it came on a 3-on-1 where Zuke was the puck carrier and, against his character, he just decided to shoot the puck. This time he just so happened to score and give the Rangers a 3-0 lead to take into the first intermission. All of the energy was with the Rangers and the Vancouver home crowd was tense and quiet after their team's flat start.
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Rick Nash picked up the primary assist on Zuke's goal which gave him a point in each of his last 9 games, tying a career-high scoring streak. Rick Nash has been doing more for this team's offense than anyone thought possible. He's that guy that Alain Vigneault is using to spark the offense of players in the lineup because he is so much more than just a goal scorer.
At 7:07 of the second period Marc Staal blasted a shot on net off of a feed from Kevin Hayes to score his first of the season. Two Vancouver defensemen and Carl Hagelin screened Ryan Miller on the play and Miller just couldn't pick up Staal's shot which gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead before the midway point of the game.
Martin St. Louis got a penalty shot against Ryan Miller 12:27 into the second period when he was hooked from behind by Kevin Bieksa on a breakaway. Marty made a nice move but couldn't lift the puck over Miller's right pad despite getting him to bite on his move. Marty missing on his penalty shot was a little bit disappointing because it felt like it would put final nail in the coffin, but it didn't take the Rangers too long to rummage around in junk drawer to find the next nail.
While being pinned up against the boards Rick Nash quickly moved the puck to Derick Brassard who was cutting through the center of the ice, Brassard wasted no time in making a gorgeous fake shot pass to set up Mats Zuccarello for his second goal of the game and to make it 5-0 Rangers 17:39 into the second period. Each Rangers forward touched the puck on the play and each of them made a beautiful, fast, skilled play with the puck to score the fifth goal of the game to beat Miller once again. In Miller's defense, his defense looked like it consisted of a bunch of beer league players tonight.
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Through two periods the Canucks simply didn't look ready for tonight's game after their road trip. The Canucks only trailed the Rangers by one shot at that point in the game, 15 shots to 16, but the Rangers had all of the quality scoring chances. The Sedins and Vrbata were a non-factor thanks to the Rangers' discipline, puck possession, and blistering transition game. The Rangers were moving the puck like they did early in the season when we were all calling this team's speed its greatest offensive asset. The Rangers' rush was lethal against the Canucks' blueliners, constantly sending them reeling with quick and creative puck movement that resulted in the goal light getting a work out early and often in the game.
4:20 into the third Nick Bonino ruined what felt like a perfect game when he scored his 8th of the year against the John Moore and Kevin Klein defensive pairing on a Vancouver rush. A minute or two later the Canucks hit a post and started to wake up and get more of the puck. The game took on a different complexion after Bonino's goal and the Canucks began to stymie the Rangers' efforts to get into the offensive zone. At 10:00 into the third period Ryan McDonagh took the first penalty of the game but the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist were able to deny the Canucks on their man advantage. It was McDonagh's only real gaffe of the game. In fact, Ryan McDonagh looked stunning tonight against the Canucks and his smooth skating and outstanding instincts are what started the Rangers' scoring rampage.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Ryan McDonagh is playing like Ryan McDonagh again. Watch out, upcoming Western Canadian opponents.</p>— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) <a href="https://twitter.com/HartnettHockey/status/543974188135251969">December 14, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Despite a strong effort in the third from the Canucks, when all was said and done the Rangers won the game handily and picked up their second straight win against a team that was in the top two spots of their division. The Canucks poured shots on in the third and the Rangers, as per tradition, turtled up good and proper and lost all of their killer instinct and speed even though those were the things that got them 5 straight goals in the first 2 periods of the game. The Canucks outshot the Rangers 30 to 23 thanks to their improved play in the final chapter of the game but it too little too late.
- Captain Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal getting their first goals of the season was great to see. More offense from the blue line is something this team has needed in a big, bad way and it's nice to see the big names contributing with some goals.
- Mats Zuccarello was one of the guys who really needed a good game and tonight he picked up 2 great goals. Hopefully he comes out of tonight's game feeling confident and more like himself.
- Derick Brassard now has 7 points in his last 5 games. He's been really special this season.
- The Rangers didn't get a single power play in this game despite keeping the puck in the Canuck's zone for the first two-thirds of the game. Scoring 5 even strength goals is great for the confidence of this team.
- J.T. Miller scores again! He displayed great hands and a wonderful ability to finish on his third goal of the season. He's really been making the most of his opportunity playing in the top six with quality players. You can't ask for more from the kid given the roller coaster ride he's been on thus far in his career. You have to be happy for him and excited about the way he's been playing. Miller has 3 goals in his last 5 games. Beautiful.
Tomorrow night the Rangers will be looking for their third straight win when they play Taylor Hall's Edmonton Oilers at Rexall place.