Rangers Vs. Capitals: Derick Brassard Saves Rangers

Notes from the Rangers Game 3 victory over the Capitals.

- Game 3 is an example of why the NHL Playoffs are so amazing and why hockey is simply the best sport on the planet. You're completely engrossed in a back-and-forth game with more ups and downs than a theme park. The Rangers go ahead late and suddenly you're keeping an eye on the clock, your heart is beating out of your chest, your standing and you don't remember when you got out of your seat, the bench is going crazy, the crowd is going even crazier, it's so loud you can't hear yourself think and when the final buzzer sounds you realize you're breathless. The game literally takes your breath away. That was the atmosphere inside Madison Square Garden Monday night. It was amazing.

- And really, what a performance by the Rangers. It wasn't a pretty win, but it was good enough to save the Rangers season. And while it might not have been easy, the Rangers proved how resilient they can truly be. They allowed the Capitals to crawl back into the game twice before they finally slammed the door shut. It takes a lot -- especially when you're offensive confidence is so low going into the game -- to keep coming back when the other team ties things up. This was huge for the Rangers in so many different ways.

- Before the game I tweeted the following about Derick Brassard:

Joe FortunatoJoe Fortunato@BlueshirtBanter

I have a good feeling about Brassard tonight. #gut

He was obviously reading my timeline. A goal and two assists in one of his best games as a Ranger. Couldn't have come at a better time. He was in the right areas, created chances, scored a beautiful goal and set up two others with crisp tape-to-tape passes (the dish to Aaron Asham should be looped on every highlight reel all day Tuesday, it was that good). He's a heck of a player, with a wealth of potential. He showed that off Monday. What a huge performance.

- Since we're talking about the Columbus boys, what a game from John Moore. Seriously, I'm running out of good things to say about him. First of all, he was an animal on the power play (he simply belongs there) taking shot after shot and running down low when he has to as well. He also has some serious vision and the hands to get the puck to where it needs to go. He was dangerous all over the ice. What a player he is. What a game to have, on a big stage in a must-win scenario. Wow.

- Speaking of big games, Derek Stepan ladies and gentlemen. Stepan was buzzing all night, had a few chances he didn't finish and then got the game-winning goal. Stepan was the man in terms of the Rangers offense this season. He showed up in the win. Hopefully that keeps up.

- Mats Zuccarello had two assists and another great game. I've said it before but I'm going to say it again: He's played his way into a contract extension.

- Let's quickly move on to Rick Nash. I don't think Nash had a bad game. In fact, I thought he was pretty good. His best scoring chance came on a transition 2-on-1 where Ryan Callahan slid him a perfect pass, Braden Holtby slid across the ice and gave him the entire top of the net and Nash flubbed the shot and put it into Holtby's pads. When the Rangers are getting secondary scoring Nash not scoring isn't a big deal. Nash will find the back of the net eventually, but the sooner the better (obviously). But, the pass to Stepan was brilliant, and it ended up being the primary assist on the game-winning goal. Not a bad stat to earn.

- Michael Del Zotto was good on Monday. Here's the thing: Generally when defenseman make mistakes the mistakes show up on the scoresheet. That's Del Zotto in a nutshell. He does a lot of good things that go unnoticed, but when he messes up you see it far more often. He earned an assist, jumped into the rush a few times (smartly, I might add) and was physical behind the net. Made a few mistakes -- including one which lead to the Mike Green goal -- but again, he was good overall.

- I told you guys you would like Derek Dorsett. I think he brings a lot of things this team simply needs. Physicality, toughness, big minutes and some penalty killing. He only played 10 minutes but I think that had more to do with the Rangers power play time than anything else. He's not out there to score -- although he did whiz one right by the post with a really good slap shot.

- Henrik Lundqvist was Henrik Lundqvist. The only goal you could think of blaming on him was the third and he didn't even see the puck. Great game from him.

- And, last but not least, Marc Staal. Apparently his vision issues flared up last week (which is why he didn't play in Game 1 or 2). But he looked really, really solid for the Rangers in Game 3. He played 17 minutes, was good behind the net, and did all the things you expect him to do. He was a little shaky, obviously, but I thought his mere presence was a tremendous boost to the hockey team.

- So, this series isn't over, not by a long shot. But the Rangers do need to win on Wednesday. Win that game, and you throw all the pressure onto Washington for Game 5. Lose that game, and your best case scenario is playing a Game 7 in Washington. Not exactly ideal. Still, the Rangers got the job done Monday with all the pressure on their shoulders and without Ryane Clowe. That's a good sign. So was the win.