I think I speak for everyone when I say, what the heck happened? Tonight's game was easily one of the strangest games I've witnessed all season long, and yet, for once Rangers actually came out on top. The game looked pretty ugly to start out, and looked as if it was heading towards a typical Rangers hockey game. Go down early, tie it back up, and then fall back once again. However, this time around, the Rangers were able to keep their foot on the gas after tying the game up for the second time, and never really looked back. Henrik Lundqvist also picked up career win number 302, which surpassed Mike Richter as the Rangers' all-time winningest goalie in franchise history.
Even though he picked up such a tremendous accomplishment, Lundqvist still wasn't pleased with the fact that he gave up four goals this game. At the end of the day though, no matter how many Lundqvist gave up, the Rangers were able to come away with two huge points.
As mentioned above, this game didn't necessarily start out great for the Rangers, and they found themselves down a goal just six minutes in. Mike Hoffman wound up receiving a perfect pass from Erik Condra at the point, and blasted it over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist. To his credit, both John Moore and Dan Girardi were stationed in the shooting lane, which didn't allow Lundqvist to catch the puck coming in.
Things appeared to go from bad to worse as Carl Hagelin took a hooking penalty immediately following the goal. However, the Rangers were actually able to capitalize on a mistake while down a man, and tied up the game at one. Mike Hoffman had trouble handling the puck at the blue line, which allowed Rick Nash to chip the puck by him, and sprung himself on a breakaway. Without wasting much time, Nash ripped a snapshot right under the blocker arm of Robin Lehner, and he was able to pull the Rangers even.
It was not only a massive goal for the Rangers, but it was also a massive goal for Nash himself. Nash has been struggling quite a bit since the Olympic break, and with him finally breaking through, it can only build his confidence moving forward.
While everything appeared to be back on track, the Rangers defensive zone coverage had other plans. Just four minutes after tying the game up, Mike Zibanejad gave the Senators a 2-1 lead with his 13th goal on the year. With all four players watching the puck, Zibanejad was able to slip right through the slot, and slammed home the easy layup from Jason Spezza.
Things were starting to look pretty bleak for the Rangers heading into the second period, but the team had other plans during the second half of the game. The Rangers wound up erupting in the second period, and tallied up a total of four goals in a ten minute time frame. Derick Brassard, Benoit Pouliot, John Moore, and Ryan McDonagh all came away with their respective goals, and suddenly, things weren't looking so bad.
Robin Lehner probably had the worst period of his professional hockey career, as he allowed four goals on 17 shots during the second period. The Senators didn't hang their heads though, as they came out in the third period with new found life. Just 1:27 into the final period, Milan Michalek ripped a shot over the blocker of Lundqvist, which pulled the Senators back within two goals.
Nathan Lawson wound up coming into the game in relief of Lehner, but that didn't stop the Rangers from capitalizing. Shortly after Michalek scored, Derek Stepan, and Derick Brassard chipped in two more goals to extend the Rangers lead to 7-3. Three minutes after that, the teams continued to trade goals as Bobby Ryan deflected a shot in the high slot, and once again brought the Senators back within three goals.
As if the second period was crazy enough, the first seven minutes of the third period resulted in four more goals. Finally, Rick Nash capped off the scoring as he tapped the puck into the empty net with a little over two minutes remaining in regulation. While it wasn't pretty, the Rangers were able to come away with two points in the standings, as they continue their push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Unluckily for them though, the Philadelphia Flyers wound up beating the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime shortly after, and currently have a one point lead on the Blueshirts. These next two games for the Rangers will be crucial, as they have yet another chance to put some distance between themselves and the teams that are chasing them. Tomorrow, and Thursday will be off days for the Rangers before they had into a weekend back-to-back against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and New Jersey Devils.
Playoff hockey is in the air!