One thing is for certain, the Rangers never make it easy on themselves, but they sure show up when it matters the most. Sure this series should, and could have been over much earlier, but the Rangers were able prevail with some much needed relief. As satisfying as it was to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, things are going to only get tougher as we move along. The Rangers didn't necessarily play great throughout the seven games against Philadelphia, and will have to be on their game every night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The first period of this game was to be expected, and both teams were trading chance for chance at either end. That's not necessarily the game the Rangers like to play, as it usually comes back to bite them at some point or another. Luckily for them, the started to settled the pace nearing the end of the period, and if not for Steve Mason, they could have come away with a goal or three.
The Rangers carried over that momentum from the first period, and laid an absolutely beat down in the second period. It was easily one of the most dominant periods the Rangers have played thus far, and they actually had something to show for it this time around. Just three minutes into the second frame, Daniel Carcillo received a brilliant no-look pass from Mats Zuccarello, and tapped it over the sprawled out Steve Mason. I mean, can you really expect anything different?
Carcillo has made Alain Vigneault look like an absolute genius this post season, because every time he has turned to the veteran, Carcillo responds enormously. Carcillo showed up big time in game 3 when AV gave him the nod, and he did it yet again tonight. Evan actually mentioned this about a week ago, and AV's decisions thus far have paid off immensely for the Blueshirts.
Fast forward about eight minutes later, and the Rangers opened up their first two goal lead of the evening coming from Benoit Pouliot. This time it was Derick Brassard setting up an excellent play to find the cutting Pouliot, and he redirected it over Mason for the 2-0 lead. The Brassard, Pouliot, Zuccarello line has been fairly quiet throughout this series, but yet again, they came up in the clutch and got the job done.
The Rangers were able to escape the period with the 2-0 lead, just as the Flyers started to pick up some serious momentum heading into the locker room. No one expected the Flyers to just fall over and die after going down 2-0, and they surely didn't. Just about four minutes into the third period, the Flyers planted the seed of doubt as Jason Akeson converted on his own rebound to pull his team within a goal.
At that point, I'm sure every fan around the world had that "here we go" reaction following the Flyers goal. Just like the Rangers did in the second period, the Flyers came out on a mission and came a few chances away from tying this game. If not for the splendid work by the defense and Henrik Lundqvist, they may have just done so. However, the Rangers clung to their one goal lead with the goalie pulled, and eventually prevailed with the 2-1 lead.
So now, it's onto round two, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. As if rest wasn't already a concern for the Rangers, they'll get right back to work with another horrendous schedule. According to CBC, the NHL has already released the schedule for the second round and well.....it's not pretty. You can find the full schedule down below.
|ROUND 2 SCHEDULE|
|Game||Date||Visiting Team||Home Team||Location||Time (ET)|
|Game #1||Friday - May 2nd, 2014||New York Rangers||Pittsburgh Penguins||CONSOL Energy Center||7:30 P.M.|
|Game #2||Sunday - May 4th, 2014||New York Rangers||Pittsburgh Penguins||CONSOL Energy Center||7:00 P.M.|
|Game #3||Monday - May 5th, 2014||Pittsburgh Penguins||New York Rangers||Madison Square Garden||7:30 P.M.|
|Game #4||Wednesday - May 7th, 2014||Pittsburgh Penguins||New York Rangers||Madison Square Garden||7:30 P.M.|
|Game #5||Friday - May 9th, 2014||New York Rangers||Pittsburgh Penguins||CONSOL Energy Center||TBD|
|Game #6||Sunday - May 11th, 2014||Pittsburgh Penguins||New York Rangers||Madison Square Garden||TBD|
|Game #7||Tuesday - May 13th, 2014||New York Rangers||Pittsburgh Penguins||CONSOL Energy Center||TBD|