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Rangers Respond In Game 4, Even Series At 2-2

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Following an effort to forget in Game 3, the New York Rangers came out hungry tonight and attacked the Montreal Canadiens from start to finish. It resulted in a 2-1 win in favor of the good guys, with the series now deadlocked at 2-2. The Rangers knew they needed to be better after last game, and they certainly delivered tonight backed by Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers also learned their lesson about sitting back in the third period with a one goal lead in their favor, and hopefully this continues moving forward in the series.

Rick Nash, who has often been criticized about his performance in the playoffs, was an absolute monster tonight and led the offensive charge for the Rangers. He scored a massive goal early in the second period to put the Rangers up 2-1, and if not for the crossbar, would have buried another in the third period.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Rangers have clearly been fighting it for some time on home ice, and needed an early bounce to get the crowd into the game. Thankfully, they got just what the doctor ordered as Jesper Fast capitalized off of a miscue by Andrei Markov behind Carey Price’s net. Fast was able to pounce on the loose puck, and stuffed it through Price’s legs to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead they desperately needed.

Unfortunately, a few minutes after the Rangers goal, the Canadiens converted on a 2-on-1 rush and tied the game at 1-1. An unfavorable bounce put Brady Skjei in a bad position while pinching and Alexander Radulov shoveled a quick pass to generate the odd-man rush. Shea Weber and Torrey Mitchell finished it all off with a beautiful passing sequence that ended up in the back of the net.

While the goal itself was well deserved, it should have never counted after the replay showed that the Canadiens had six players on the ice. The Rangers also had six players on the ice, but the fact that the play wasn’t blown dead just sums up how this series has been officiated. I’m not one to complain about the officiating, by my word, the Canadiens practically assaulted Brendan Smith in the third period, and were never called once for a penalty.

I’m all for letting the teams decide the outcome, but when blatantly obvious slashes and hacks are going uncalled, it gets a little out of hand. Oh, and there’s also Steve Ott violently kicking his skate blades at Mats Zuccarello’s back/legs after a slight scrum by the Montreal bench. So yeah, there’s obvious some concern with the officiating in this game and series overall.

Officiating aside, Rick Nash was able to put the Rangers back in the lead early in the second period, with a strong move along the goal line. Ryan McDonagh created the entire goal with a ridiculous feed from the blue line, and caught Nash in stride for the easy tap in. That goal would remain intact throughout the third period, where the Rangers continued to pressure the Canadiens in the offensive zone.

Even though the Rangers weren’t able to extend their lead, they held Montreal to only six shot attempts during the final ten minutes of the game. That was a complete 180 from Game 2, where the Rangers ultimately shot themselves in the foot by sitting back on their lead late in the game. It was an encouraging sign, and Alain Vigneault does deserve credit where it is due, and he certainly made the right calls tonight.

With tonight’s win, the Rangers will now make the journey back to Montreal where they will look to take another game at the Bell Centre. It certainly won’t be easy, but going back to Montreal tied 2-2 is a heck of a lot better than fighting back from a 3-1 deficit.