It sure wasn't pretty, but the New York Rangers handled business tonight, and defeated the Calgary Flames by a final score of 1-0. Cam Talbot picked up his fourth shutout of the season, and has improved his record to 7-1-2 since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist. Oscar Lindberg also made his NHL debut tonight, had 8:18 of ice time, and made a seamless transition into a third line center role. Rick Nash was a last minute scratch for the Rangers, and according to the team, he is day-to-day with neck spasms.
That likely stems from the high hit last game from Zach Bogosian, but it doesn't appear to be anything that will keep him out long-term. As a result, Lindberg was given the nod, and played well enough to get a second look if Alain Vigneault decides to scratch Tanner Glass. He was paired up on a line with Carl Hagelin, and J.T. Miller, and almost gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead late in the third period.
The Rangers actually had a really quick start to this game, and peppered Kari Ramo in the opening minutes. Their best chance came when J.T. Miller recovered a rebound to the side of the net, but Ramo sprawled out to rob him on the goal line. Following that chance, the period was pretty much a snoozefest, and the Flames only registered their first shot at about the halfway mark. Just like the first period, the Rangers got out to yet another quick start, but were unable to solve Ramo once again.
Then at the 5:39 mark, we were caught with quite a surprise as J.T. Miller wound up dropping the gloves with Michael Ferland. It would be Miller's first career NHL fight, and he appeared to hold his own, but that landed him five minutes in the box. The remainder of the period pretty much played out exactly as the first period, and the game remained scoreless heading into the third period.
With yet another quick start, the Rangers finally took advantage this time, and grabbed the early 1-0 lead in the third period. Kevin Hayes came away with the goal, and capitalized on a beautiful centering feed from Derick Brassard. Brassard was able to force Dennis Wideman into making a quick play, and he wound up misplaying the puck right onto Brassard's stick. As a result, a 2-on-1 quickly developed, and Brassard found Hayes cutting down the middle of the ice for the easy goal.
As hard as it was to grab the lead tonight, the Rangers made sure they would hold on, and locked it down defensive for the remainder of the game. The Flames had a flurry of chances late in the game with the goalie pulled, but Talbot and the Rangers were up more than up to the task.
As mentioned earlier, while it wasn't a pretty win by any means, the Rangers found yet another way to grab two points. They've only lost once in regulation since losing Henrik Lundqvist, and that's an incredible number to think about. Just imagine when they get him back.
The Rangers will be off tomorrow night, but they will be back in action Thursday night when they welcome the struggling Arizona Coyotes.