Finally back on the ice after
an eternity the 19 day Olympic break, the Rangers faced the defending champs on home ice. With Henrik Lundqvist getting an extended rest and Cam Talbot between the pipes, the Blueshirts and their 6 Olympians took on the Hawks and their 10 Olympians.
With the crowd at the World’s Most Famous it’s customary quiet self, the guys in blue and the guys in white played a pretty even, if not underwhelming first period. Watching from home, the drop off in play from the Olympics to this game was palpable.
Newly called up JT Miller looked like the best player on the ice for the NYR. Miller, who has been skating with Hartford skated well and hit everything in his sights. The young winger, in for the injured Mats Zuccarello, was tough on the forecheck and created the chance that led to the Rangers first goal.
Miller chased down Johnathan Toews in the Hawks zone and with some back pressure, nudged the puck away from Toews directly to Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot then fed Derick Brassard in the slot and with Miller crashing the net, D-Brass fired a shot on Corey Crawford and buried his own rebound.
Jam Time Miller setting the tone!
The Blueshirts killed off two Hawks power plays and took a 1-0 lead into the second.
And the second period was kind of a snoozer with the Rangers holding Chicago to just seven shots, while the NYR Fired off 11. Maybe it was the Olympic hangover, maybe the Hawks were looking to their outdoor game on Saturday, or maybe the Rangers defense was just that good. Whatever the case, the Blackhawks didn’t generate much on the Blueshirts until they seemed to come alive in the third.
The Rangers, falling into some kind of New York Jets prevent defense pumped a measly two shots on Crawford, the second of which found the back of the net. Derek Stepan made a nice play at the hawks blue line sending the puck into the Hawks zone where Rick Nash scooped it up and scored a goal scorer’s goal firing a low shot by the Hawks netminder. And although the NYR only had teo shots on goal, they had a 2-0 lead with 4:57 remaining.
Excuse me, baby…
The defending champs picked up their play in the Foxwoods Final Five™ but Marc Staal, Kevin Klein and the rest of the Rangers defense fended off the challenges and appeared to be cruising to Cam Talbot’s third shutout of the year. But Peter Regin broke through the Rangers defense and beat Talbot with 12 seconds to go spoiling the goose egg.
Off the ensuing faceoff, the Hawks nearly tied the game on a set play, but Talbot was brilliant. Chicago won the draw and Duncan Keith sent the puck along the wall to Jonathan Toews. The Blackhawk captain fed Patrick Sharp in the high slot and the rebound of Sharp’s shot came to a wide open Patrick Kane on the doorstep. As Kane fired what would be the tying goal on net, Talbot kicked out his pad and sent the puck into the corner preserving the win and the Rangers winning ways.
Talbot was solid in net stopping 31 of the shots he faced. Staal was excellent and Ryan (still here) Callahan was his customary solid (but not 7 million dollar) self. And kudos to Dan Carcillo on a savvy play. After having iced the puck, with the NYR completely exhausted, Carcillo “tested” his stick by leaning on it and snapping it. The trip to the bench bought his exhausted mates a much needed breather.
Also, what the hell was with Marcus Kruger playing wack-a-mole on an invisible puck on the goal post. Kruger smacked at the post an amazing 8 times with the puck (and the play) no where near him. Strange.
Although the game was a bit sloppy, it was a big win for the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts are in a dogfight and with 22 games and 44 possible points remaining, the NYR need to keep rolling through March and into April.
The Flyers up next in a Saturday matinee.
Let’s go Rangers!
Is there a better backup in the game?