The New York Rangers finally picked up two points tonight as they snapped their two game losing streak, and defeated the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 4-2. Carl Hagelin picked up his first career hat trick in the process, as he netted two crucial goals in the second and third periods. Henrik Lundqvist started off a little shaky in the opening minutes, but really solidified himself in the blue paint, and picked up career win number 301. That now ties him with Mike Richter for first all-time on the Rangers win chart, and he's just a single win away from making history.
This one actually started our rather quick for the Rangers as just 1:15 into the game, Carl Hagelin put the Rangers up 1-0. It was a really broken play that started out with Kevin Klein taking the initial shot from the blue line. The puck wound up deflecting off of Benoit Pouliot's stick, and caught Carl Hagelin's blade shortly after. After the slew of deflections, the puck somehow flew up in the air, and landed in behind Ondrej Pavelec for the goal. With the Rangers struggling to find goal scoring as of late, that's just the type of goal they needed to boost their confidence.
Before the excitement wore off, Winnipeg came right back and tied the game up at one just under a minute later. Dustin Byfulien picked up the tying goal as he whacked home a high rebound in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Another minute after that though, the Rangers found themselves trailing 2-1 as Andrew Ladd snapped a hard wrister over the shoulder of Lundqvist. It was a pretty quick turnaround for the Jets, and it practically had the Rangers shell shocked with what had just transpired.
The Jets continued to pressure the Rangers following the go-ahead goal, but the Rangers wound up catching a break later on in the period. Derek Stepan made a great play in defensive end, and sprung Chris Kreider up the left wing with a crisp pass off of the boards. With Kreider catching the puck in stride, he flew in and blasted a laser under the arm of Pavelec, and just like that we were even once again.
Pavelec's night would be cut short following the goal from Kreider, as left the game with a lower-body injury, as described on the MSG broadcast. Al Montoya would come in as Pavelec's replacement, and wound up letting in two goals on eight shots.
For almost 20 minutes following the Kreider goal, the game remaining scoreless until the final eight seconds of the second period. With Martin St. Louis' penalty expiring, he quickly tracked down the puck below the goal line, and dished a beautiful pass out to Carl Hagelin. The pass was so slick that all Hagelin really had to do was put the puck on net, and it was an easy goal.
There has been a ton of criticism surrounding St. Louis as of late, and I really hope that play silenced a lot of them. St. Louis is a game changer, and it's hard to argue that with that pass that he made to Hagelin on the go-ahead goal late in the second period.
With the Rangers possessing a ton of confidence heading into the third period, they were able to grab an early insurance goal. Just eight minutes into the third period, Carl Hagelin capped off his first career hat trick off of a beautiful dish from Brad Richards. Hagelin caught the puck in stride, and quickly ripped a shot through the legs of Montoya to make it 4-2 Rangers.
The Jets didn't hang their heads following the 4-2 goal, and the continued to press the Rangers until the final buzzer. Henrik Lundqvist came up with a few monster saves in the closing minutes, and he was able to preserve the win. Even though it wasn't necessarily pretty, any points that the Rangers can grab in the final stretch are huge, and they did just that tonight. Tomorrow will be an off day for the Rangers as they travel back to New York for a matchup with the San Jose Sharks on Sunday afternoon.