After losing their last two games, the New York Rangers finally got back into the win column tonight with a huge 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. While the Rangers played far from a perfect game, they were miles better than they this weekend against the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. In addition, Henrik Lundqvist also notched his first win since returning from his injury, and played a big part in tonight's win.
Aside from the first goal, which was a bit soft, Lundqvist settled in very nicely, and helped preserve the one goal lead late in the third period. Speaking of the first goal, the Rangers had yet another terrible start to this game, and allowed the Winnipeg Jets to take full advantage early on. Jim Slater was able to collected to the loose puck to the side of the, and found a way to slip it under the arm of Lundqvist for the 1-0 lead.
Lundqvist wasn't completely hugging the post, which left just barely enough room for the puck to fit through, and Slater didn't miss. You could tell the goal clearly caught the Rangers by surprise, and they appeared a bit shell shocked after the crowd erupted. However, a little over seven minutes later, Mats Zuccarello was able to calm the nerves and pulled the Rangers back even at 1-1.
Rick Nash's initial point shot was able to find a way through traffic, and Ondrej Pavelec kicked the rebound right out to the middle of the hash marks. Zuccarello was stationed in the right place at the right time, and he shoveled the loose puck into the empty net. Despite the Rangers coming away with the tying goal, the Jets continued to pressure the Rangers, and wound up coming away with a 16-9 shot advantage heading into the intermission.
Sure enough, just 1:24 into the second period, that pressure wound up getting the best of the Rangers, and the Jets pulled back out in front 2-1. Former Ranger Lee Stempniak was able to capitalize on a beautiful pass from Mathieu Perreault, and ripped a wicked wrist shot just under the crossbar. Following the goal, it took the Rangers a little while to settle back down, but once they did, they were able to knot the game back up.
This time around, it was Derick Brassard who smoked a heavy slap shot just under the crossbar with Rick Nash setting the screen in front of the net. The goal also came on the power play, and some nice puck movement up top by Ryan McDonagh, and Keith Yandle, the puck ended up in the back of the net. When Brassard decides to use his slapshot, it might be one of the most accurate shots in the league, because he straight picks corners when he winds up like that.
Nearing the end of the second period, Dustin Byfuglien and J.T. Miller were tangled up in front, and Byfuglien took it upon himself to throw a massive cheapshot. While falling, Byfuglien laid a vicious cross-check to the back of Miller's neck, which left him skating to the bench in an immense amount of pain. Sure enough, there was zero penalty called on the play, and the replay makes this play look much worse than it was live.
Here's a replay of the cheap shot, and it seems to get worse every time I watch it. There's no doubt that the NHL will look at the play, but the biggest unknown is what will be done about it. This type of stuff doesn't belong in the game, and it's infuriating to think there wasn't even a penalty called on the play.
Either way, the Rangers were able to take yet another tie into the intermission, which set the stage for a big third period, with the game winning goal for grabs. Both teams pretty much locked it down in the third period, but with under five minutes remaining, the Rangers were able to break through. J.T. Miller started it all off with a beautiful stretch pass up to Chris Kreider, which sent him in on a partial breakaway.
The pass was able to catch Dustin Byfuglien flatfooted, and Kreider was able to finish it off with his patented power move to the backhand. What made the goal even better was that Miller was able to enact his revenge on Byfuglien, and more importantly, he did hit him in the spot it hurts most. The scoreboard.
Although, Byfuglien wasn't done with his shenanigans, and started throwing punches to the back of Mats Zuccarello's head with under two minutes remaining. Funny enough, this time around, the officials wound up calling a penalty on Byfuglien, and it essentially cost his team the game. The Rangers were able to kill off the remaining time on the clock, and took a huge 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Thursday will be yet another test against the Minnesota Wild, who are not only fighting for a playoff spot, but also riding a hot goaltender in Devan Dubnyk.