Following Thursday's close call against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers made it two wins in a row after defeating the Detroit Red Wings this evening. There was technically only one goal scored in this game (we'll dive into that later on), and thankfully, Kevin Klein's overtime blast sent the Rangers home with two points. As a whole, the Rangers were on top of their game tonight, and didn't allow many high quality scoring chances in their defensive end.
The penalty kill, which had been horrific up until tonight, was exceptional and killed off all four of the Red Wings power play opportunities. A lot of that was due in part to the Rangers reading off of one another, and operating as a unit of four. All of the Wings chances were kept to the perimeter, and when they did get an open look, the Rangers did a perfect job of clogging up the shooting lanes.
Dominic Moore, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jesper Fast, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Kevin Klein did much of the heavy lifting on the penalty kill, and deserve a ton of credit. In addition, Henrik Lundqvist was solid tonight and dialed in his fourth shutout of the season with the victory. While the score only read 1-0, there certainly wasn't a lack of action, and in fact, there was quite a bit of it.
With both goaltenders standing tall in net, and most notably Jimmy Howard, this game was scoreless up until the 5:54 mark of the third period. Kevin Hayes tossed a shot on net from the corner boards, and the puck wound up banking in off of Howard's left pad. The call on ice was a goal initially, but a few moments later, the Red Wings challenged the play for goaltender interference.
After looking at the replay, Oscar Lindberg wound up catching Howard in the mask with his skate, which resulted in the goal being overturned. However, the part that doesn't seem to make sense is the fact that Howard initiated the contact by tripping Lindberg, which in turn, caused said contact. It also came outside of the crease, and that alone should wipe out any sort of interference call.
But of course, given the Rangers usual luck with these judgement calls, the call was overturned and went in favor of Detroit. With about five minutes remaining in regulation, the Rangers had another huge chance to get on the board after Jesper Fast was hauled down on a breakaway. Unfortunately, due to Howard being absolutely locked in, Fast's attempt was turned aside and this game was set to be decided in overtime.
It took the Rangers exactly two minutes to strike, and it came courtesy of Kevin Klein as he broke in on a 2-on-1 with Kevin Hayes. Brendan Smith made a poor decision on the play to bolt right over to Hayes, which left Klein all alone on the far side of the net. Hayes made an absolutely beautiful chip pass over Smith's stick, and placed it right on Klein's tape.
Klein had plenty of time to pick his spot, and wired a snap shot just underneath the crossbar and sent the Rangers off with the win. Given that the playoff race is still incredibly close in the East, the Rangers picked up two huge points tonight and have built themselves a nice five point cushion.
The Rangers will have an off-day tomorrow, while they prepare to take on the New Jersey Devils this upcoming Tuesday night. That game will have plenty of playoff implications on the line, so it is expected to be another good one.