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courtesy of NHL.com

Well, this went a lot better. After a series of absolute stinkers, the Rangers found their toughness and finally asserted themselves in the offensive zone. Defense and goaltending were airtight on both sides, but I still think this is one of the best games that the Rangers have played all season. I’m just glad that Mac and Zib were able to take advantage of the Lightning’s lone mistake of the game. And I’m glad that the Rangers were able to pick up both points and spare the apologists all that “moral victory” crap. A full recap with all the fixings can be found here, courtesy of NHL.com.

Quick Stats:

First Period Scoring:

  • None

Second Period Scoring:

  • None

Third Period Scoring:

  • None

Overtime Scoring:

  • 3:56 NEW YORK GOAL Mika Zibanejad; Assist: Ryan McDonagh

Three Stars-

  1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL: 33 Saves, Loss
  2. Antti Raanta, NYR: 38 Saves, Win
  3. Mika Zibanejad, NYR: Game-Winning Goal

 

Impressions:

  • The Rangers finally got their balls back tonight. They took every opportunity to throw a hit, pucks were constantly being taken to the net, and there was a ton of play below the goal-line. I get that AV wants to play a speed, finesse game, but come this time of year, its tonight’s style of game that pops up more often than not. Its adapt or die in this league, and it looked like the Rangers were determined not to fall by the wayside. Like I said before, this was easily one of their best games of the year and one I’d like to see them build off of for the stretch run.
  • Goaltending was absolutely superb. Hats off to Andrei Vasilevskiy for a sterling performance. He made so many point-blank saves tonight, from Ryan McDonagh’s chance on goal to Brady Skjei’s 2-on-1 chance, to Rick Nash’s power moves in the third. It took a break-away and quick shot to finally beat him, but his play cannot be diminished by the loss. Fortunately for the Rangers, Antti Raanta matched his counterpart save for save, including a kick save on Kucherov with only 15 seconds left in the 3rd period. He ended up with 38 saves, his 3rd shutout of the year, and cements his place as the player I desperately do not want to lose in the expansion draft. 
  • Rick Nash was a beast tonight and it’s super frustrating. This is just one of so many games over his Rangers career where he is a physical force, using his body to make both offensive an defensive plays, but somehow still doesn’t end up on the scoresheet. Still, he was such a sight to behold tonight. I really thought he was going to score on his 3rd period breakaway, or even on the 2-1 that he couldn’t convert. His most impressive play  of the game, however, was easily his possession in OT where he used his backside to lean into and fend off Victor Hedman as he weaved through the offensive zone. This was a true power forward’s play, made even better by the fact that he was able to body out a big boy like Hedman. If he keeps it up, he’ll definitely kick off one of his white-hot scoring streaks.
  • Mika Zibanejad has been pretty cold lately but he really makes his few points count. This is only his second goal in about 20 games, but both have been overtime game winners. It just shows how great a player he can be. With one flick of the wrist, he won a game for his team. And the celly was pure gold. Those were not the moves of a guy who hasn’t been scoring. Now, if only we can find a goal for Derek Stepan…
  • Tanner Glass made a difference tonight. Yes, he only played about 5 minutes (which  was kind of skewed due to his fight in the 1st period and the rash of penalties in the 2nd period) but he set the tone with his 1st period fight against Luke Witkowski. The choppiness eventually settled down as the game went on, but Glass’ fight drew a line in the sand tonight. The Rangers were not going to be pushed around. Hell, even Jimmy Vesey was scrumming  in between whistles. I was so glad to finally see some grit from this team and was glad to have Tanner Glass back on the team. Obviously, when Grabner and Fast are healthy, he needs to sit, but I would keep him on this team and go to him before a Brandon Pirri or even Matt Peumpel. He serves a distinct, much needed purpose and was a difference-maker tonight.
  • I read before the game that Adam Clendening was unhappy with being scratched in favor of Steve Kampfer, thought that his -3 against Montreal wasn’t as bad as it looked, and was of the opinion that his exclusion from the lineup was more of a wake-up call for the entire than it was for just himself. Wow, who does this guy think he is? He’s skated in less NHL contests than even Kampfer and somehow acts like he’s some long-tenured player on this team. I’ve got news for you, pal: you’re not Brian Leetch. You may have scored a lot in college and the AHL, but there’s a reason why you’ve been with like 4 different organizations already. That first goal against Montreal is all anyone needs to know about you. You’re just not that good and will probably never be a regular player in the NHL. So show some humility and good luck finding a new team next year, because you won’t be a New York Ranger for much longer.