The New York Rangers are onto the second round after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6, and will await the winner of the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators. After the first three games in this series, it looked as if it was going to be an uphill battle for the Rangers, and to an extent, it was.
Alain Vigneault’s decision to scratch Pavel Buchnevich to start the playoffs was frustrating, and while Tanner Glass wasn’t bad, the Rangers clearly needed to dress their best lineup to defeat the Canadiens. Despite the early questionable decision, it was extremely encouraging to see Vigneault adjust as the series carried on. Buchnevich entering the lineup was a massive turning point in the series, and the Rangers never looked back.
Then, there was the Henrik Lundqvist factor. He was simply amazing from Game 1, all the way through Game 6, and gave the Rangers every single opportunity to win. I think it’s time to put those “Is Henrik done?” narratives to rest. Early on in this game, the Canadiens desperation was certainly evident, as they immediately attacked the Rangers after the opening faceoff.
As a result of the early pressure, the Canadiens were able to break the ice at the 6:19 mark as Alexei Emelin made it a 1-0 game. While it certainly was a tough way to start a potential elimination game, the Rangers didn’t panic and took over the game in the second period. Fueled by Mats Zuccarello, the Rangers immediately stormed back early in the second period, and tied up the game with their only power play goal of the series.
Then a little over ten minutes later, Mats Zuccarello picked up his second goal of the night off of a beautiful slot line pass from Kevin Hayes. J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes appeared to struggled early on in this series in terms of offensive productive, but man, did they pick a good time to get things going. After keeping the Canadiens scoreless in the second period, the Rangers had 20 more minutes to kill off before moving onto the second round.
The Canadiens certainly had their chances throughout the third period, but the Rangers as a whole did an excellent job of defending the Canadiens in the closing minutes. They also had a massive penalty kill halfway through the period, after Chris Kreider took an undisciplined high sticking penalty in the offensive zone.
With the Canadiens looking to at least extend this game to overtime, they pulled Carey Price for the extra in hopes of finding the tying goal. The Rangers were able to keep the Canadiens mostly to the outside on their chances, and eventually iced the game with an empty net goal. Derek Stepan picked up the goal, and sent the Rangers onto the second round.
The Rangers will now await the winner of the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins, before kicking off the second round.