The New York Rangers blew out the Ottawa Senators this evening by a final score of 5-1, and also punched their ticket to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the process. After a putting up a disappointing effort on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings, the Rangers responded extremely well tonight, and made easy work of arguably the hottest team in the NHL over the last few weeks.
Cam Talbot didn't have a heavy workload tonight, but he made the saves he needed to make, and turned away 23 saves for his 20th win on the season. As surprising as this sounds, Tanner Glass also had one of his better games, and also notched his first goal of the season. Glass has understandably taken a ton of heat for his play during the season, but seeing him chip in his first as a Ranger was nice to see.
As has been the case for the last several games, the Rangers got out to another good start in this one, and eventually came away with the first goal of the game. Derek Stepan set up Chris Kreider with a beautiful bank pass off of the boards, and sent Chris Kreider roaring down the left wing with a ton of speed. Kreider was able to get a couple of steps on Cody Ceci, and ripped a heavy shot past Andrew Hammond on the short side.
However, just 19 seconds later, the Senators came right back down the ice and knotted up the game at 1-1. Curtis Lazar was able to chip a bouncing puck past Keith Yandle, and slipped around him to pick the puck up just inside the hash marks. Lazar was able to get off a quick wrist shot from in close, and snapped the shot over the glove of Talbot to bring the game back to even.
As if this period wasn't already filled with enough action, the Rangers were able to pile on two more goals before the end of the first period, and carried a 3-1 lead into the intermission. A little under two minutes after Lazar tied up the game, Dan Boyle restored the Rangers one goal lead on a beautiful setup from Rick Nash. The Rangers came into the zone with a 2-on-2 rush, but the Senators failed to pick up Dan Boyle, who was sliding in from the high slot. Nash was able to make a quick centering pass to Boyle, and Boyle finished it off by lobbing a shot past Hammond to the far side.
About four minutes later, Chris Kreider picked up his second goal of the night, and slammed home a loose puck in the crease to extend the Rangers lead to 3-1. Andrew Hammond had trouble with Derek Stepan's initial shot from the corner, and the puck popped up in the air in behind him. Hammond wasn't able to locate the loose puck in time, and Kreider pounced on the loose puck to knock it over the goal line.
The Rangers clearly didn't enjoy themselves enough in the first period, and jumped right out of the gate in the second period to increase their lead to 4-1. Keith Yandle started the entire rush with a beautiful outlet pass to Kevin Hayes, which sprung a 2-on-1 back the other way. Hayes was able to sell the shot enough for the defenseman to bite, and slid the pass over to Mats Zuccarello on the far side. Zuccarello practically had the entire net to shoot at, at that point, and rifled the puck just under the crossbar.
Following the quick second period goal, the Rangers got into a bit of penalty trouble, and were forced to kill off three consecutive penalties. The Rangers were able to do so in pretty convincing fashion, and they were able to create a late scoring opportunity just as Tanner Glass stepped out of the penalty box. Dan Boyle created the opportunity by blocking a shot just inside the blue line, and ripping a stretch pass up to Kevin Hayes breaking down the left side.
It was a perfectly timed pass because Glass was just stepping out of the penalty box, which created a partial 2-on-1 break. Hayes was able to dish a soft pass over to Glass, and Glass finished it off by bombing one past Hammond to make it a 5-1 lead. That goal would eventually end Hammond's night, and Chris Driedger came in to relieve of him of his duties for the evening.
Heading into the third period, the Rangers didn't have a whole lot of work to do besides preserving their lead, and coming away with two points. The penalty kill was put to the test once again in the third period, and the Rangers were able to kill off three more penalties early in the period. Eventually, the Rangers were able to run down the clock, and came away with their 47th win of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
Tonight was certainly a much better effort than on Tuesday, and the Rangers will have two more big tests coming up this weekend. The Rangers will be back in action this upcoming Saturday where they will meet up with the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. That could potentially be Henrik Lundqvist's first game back since his injury, and it will certainly be a welcoming sight.