Just as they rehearsed in game 1 folks, your Blueshirts came out ready to skate and play hard. This one had a lot of action, so let’s get to it.
It was apparent almost immediately that the Devils weren’t going to make this easy. The teams traded dangerous chances as Vanecek made some big-time saves and had a perfect first period. After getting a lot of looks the Rangers couldn’t convert on their first power play, and not too long after, Mikkola was sent to the box for tripping putting the Devils on their first power play of game 2.
The Rangers made several key defensive plays to kill time on the Devils’ man advantage, but as the seconds wound down New Jersey found the back of the net. After an important face-off win Goodrow had possession of the puck and failed to clear it out of the zone. The Devils cycled the puck and Palat put a shot on net that was deflected by Mcleod leaving the puck on the back door for Haula to tap in.
I’ll be honest guys, it hurt to see the Devils to get their first power-play goal of the series, especially after most of the penalty had been expertly killed off. But every play and touch each team makes has the potential to be the mistake that lands in the back of the net, and this time it was on Goodrow who had more time and space than he used. Trocheck was right there for a touch pass and would have been in position to clear the puck more effectively.
After the Devils went up 1-0, the Igor jeers started. It didn’t help that as the period progressed, Vanecek continued to stand on his head to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard. With less than a minute left the Rangers got another power play opportunity, after failing to crack Vanecek the buzzer sounded and a scrum ensued. After the refs broke up the entangled players, a roughing penalty was called on Adam Fox. Now here’s the thing, I’m not going to objectively call out bad officiating here, but there were concerns expressed about certain officials the Rangers have a history with being assigned to this game, and this weak penalty at the time seemed to be a bad sign of things to come. But I’ll let you be the judge on the call, you can watch the video below.
The period started 4 on 4 and it was still clear that playoff hockey was here to stay. A chill in the air affected every Rangers fan far and wide. Would our team rise to the challenge and tie it up? Or would the Devils score again and pad their lead making the comeback that much harder to climb? We got our answer and his name is once again Vladimir Tarasenko.
After maintaining possession and cycling the puck in the offensive zone, Adam Fox made a beautiful drop pass to Tarasenko who stepped into the slot and fired a shot home past Vanecek breaking the seemingly impenetrable wall the goaltender had built for himself in the first period.
The Devils pressed back but Igor and several Rangers defensemen stood tall. With the game tied, Chris Kreider decided to do what he does best, deflect some hockey pucks.
The Rangers were awarded a power play and had the puck in the Devils’ zone. They cycled it all around looking for the best open lane. You could feel the fans in your section yearning to yell “shoot the puck” as they sipped on their mediocre and overpriced beer, but then a miracle happened, the Rangers shot the puck.
During the celebration, the team must’ve discussed how incredible this feeling was, so they decided to do it one more time but just a little bit cooler.
Patrick Kane was an offensive force and found Kreider at the side of the net who was somehow able to deflect the puck up and over Vanecek. Kreider must’ve studied physics at Boston College because you almost certainly need a protractor to figure this one out.
As the last frame of the game began, the Devils came out on a mission. Now or never for the New Jersey squad, they threw everything they had at Igor but the closest they got was hitting a post. The Rangers sensing they needed to get another goal to further protect the lead found a way to get it done.
Patrick Kane who had been buzzing all night made an extra effort and excellent defensive play to steal the puck and send him and Kreider into the Devils zone on an odd man rush. Everyone and their mother thought he was going to dish the puck over to Kreider who was on hat trick watch, but Kane recognizing this used it to his advantage. He took the extra space given to him and cut in towards Vanecek and roofed a backhand over his glove hand to give the Blueshirts a 4-1 lead.
The Prudential Center literally deflated and emptied after Kane scored the prettiest goal of the series thus far. The Rangers, however, weren’t done. The Kid line had been a bit too quiet in this one and wanted a headline of their own. Chytil gained possession of the puck and moved it to a wide-open Kakko in the slot who placed the puck perfectly into the top corner of the net before Vanecek could even realize what had happened. The Rangers now had a 5-1 lead in this game and were firmly in control as the last period ticked away.
A lot of us were nervous and expected a much different outcome this time around. The Devils came out ready to play, but the Rangers effectively dismantled Jack Hughes and got inside the Devil’s heads as the game grew chippier and chippier. By the end of the game, the refs were tossing players left and right even when it hadn’t escalated to blows. Fox and Meier were both sent off after a small back and forth, but it may have been the best move the refs made all night as they were looking to mitigate and de-escalate the ensuing violence that had been brewing between these two rivals.
With a commanding two game to none series lead, the Rangers head back to the Garden for the third game this Saturday night. Let’s go.