After dropping the first two games of this series and falling in a 2-0 hole, the New York Rangers responded in a big way this evening. They not only defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1, but they also leaped back into this series in dominating fashion. Right from the opening puck drop, the Rangers attacked the Senators, and just kept coming in waves. Henrik Lundqvist didn’t have a difficult game in net tonight, but there were a few occasions where he was forced to make a big save.
One of the biggest takeaways from tonight’s game was all four lines contributing on the scoresheet in dominating fashion. Alain Vigneault appeared to learn from his mistakes in Game 2 after shortening the bench, and the entire lineup responded accordingly. It’s also worth mentioning that the usage of the defensemen tonight played a big part in the Rangers play.
It’s no secret that Marc Staal and Nick Holden have been the two weakest links on defense thus far, and tonight they were sheltered heavily. Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Brendan Smith, and Brady Skjei were all ahead of them in ice time, and it was fairly evident how much cleaner the Rangers were in their own zone as a result.
With their backs against the wall tonight, the Rangers needed some early positive reinforcement in this game, and they received just what the doctor ordered. Just five minutes into the first period, Mats Zuccarello finished off a beautiful centering feed from Mika Zibanejad, and sent Madison Square Garden into a frenzy.
The Rangers continued to pressure the Senators following the opening goal, and eventually forced Craig Anderson into a costly mistake. Michael Grabner was able to beat Anderson behind the net while he was playing the puck, and stuffed the puck into the empty net after forcing the turnover. Anderson never recovered after coughing up the puck, and Grabner had a yawning net to shoot on.
Following a dominating opening period, the Rangers carried over their strong play to the second period where they added another pair of goals. Rick Nash started it all off with a filthy wrist shot on a partial breakaway, and gave the Rangers a massive 3-0. Oscar Lindberg quickly made that a 4-0 lead a short time later after J.T. Miller carved through the Senators defense, and fed it to Lindberg on the far post.
The pass left everyone in the dust, including Anderson, and Lindberg rifled the puck over the sprawled out goaltender. About 30 seconds after Lindberg’s tally, Jean-Gabriel Pageau made his presence known yet again, and cut the Rangers to 4-1 off of a ridiculous behind the back feed from Bobby Ryan.
With a three goal lead firmly in their possession, the Rangers completely shut down the game in the third period, and kept the Senators off of the scoreboard. The Rangers desperately needed a win coming into this game, and they certainly delivered in a big way. Suddenly the pressure shifts back to the Senators, as they look to prevent the Rangers from swinging this series back to Ottawa all knotted up at two.
Game 4 will take place on Thursday, and the Rangers will certainly need a similar effort to tie this series back up.