Late Kreider Goal Gives Rangers Key Road Win

After losing three of their last four games, Tuesday night’s road game at Winnipeg was as close to a must-win game as the Rangers have had all season. The team rallied from a slow start, scored a rare power play goal in the second period, and got a late goal from Chris Kreider for a 3-2 win over the Jets.

Jim Slater gave the Jets a very early lead, scoring his 4th goal of the season at 3:16 to make it 1-0. The Jets would take the first nine shots of the game.

Mats Zuccarello would give the sluggish-looking Blueshirts a boost later in the first, with his 15th of the season at 9:21 to tie the game at 1-all.

In the second, Winnipeg again jumped out to a one-goal lead when former Ranger Lee Stempniak scored at 1:24 to make it 2-1 Jets.

The Rangers’ power play, which has been ice cold of late [only 1 of their last 26 chances entering Tuesday], got the team back in the game when Derick Brassard scored at 10:21 of the second, on assists from Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle, tying the game 2-2.

Then, staring overtime in the face in the waning minutes of the third period, Kreider streaked toward the net, off a great pass from J.T. Miller, and put the puck past Ondrej Pavelec for his 21st of the season and a 3-2 edge.

The Rangers [now 48-21-7, 103 pts] play the Wild in Minnesota Thursday night.

Lost Weekend: Rangers Fall to Capitals, 5-2

The Rangers squandered a 2-1 lead and lost to the Capitals 5-2 Sunday afternoon at The Garden. The Blueshirts have now lost three of their last four, for the first time since November.

Alexander Ovechkin scored twice for Washington, and Jason Chimera scored a pair of third period goals to propel the Caps to the win.

Things were looking good for the Rangers early. Ovechkin staked Washington to a 1-0 lead at 4:32 of the first with his 48th goal of the season. Then Kevin Hayes tied the score with a beautiful unassisted goal at 18:10, and Derick Brassard scored 61 seconds later to give New York a 2-1 lead after one period.

In the second period, Ovechkin scored again, his NHL-best 49th of the season, at 11:17, a power play goal, to tie the game at two.

Then in the third period, Chimera scored at 4:41, after a Keith Yandle turnover in the Rangers’ zone, to give Washington a 3-2 lead. Chimera scored again at 7:40, after another Rangers turnover, to make it 4-2.

Marcus Johansson scored an empty-netter at 17:37 for the final 5-2 margin.

Cam Talbot got the start and made 26 saves in the loss.

The Rangers [now 47-21-7, 101 pts] head to Winnipeg for a game against the Jets Tuesday night.

Lundqvist Returns, But Rangers Fall To Bruins

It was hard to figure out the Rangers this week.

On Sunday at home, they looked like world beaters, scoring a season-high seven goals on their way to an easy win over Western Conference front-runner Anaheim.

On Tuesday night at The Garden, the team looked flat and over-matched, and lost to the L.A. Kings in a rematch of Stanley Cup finalists.

On Thursday in Ottawa, they put five goals past red-hot goalie Andrew Hammond, sending “The Ham-Burglar” to the bench, in a comfortable win over the Senators.

But Saturday afternoon in Boston, the Blueshirts came out sluggishly again, dug a 4-0 hole, and went on to lose to the Bruins 4-2 in Henrik Lundqvist‘s first game in the line-up since February 2nd.

Milan Lucic scored 1:41 into the game to give Boston a 1-0 lead, but not without some controversy. A Patrice Bergeron shot was stopped by Lundqvist but ricocheted off Lucic’s skate and into the goal. The goal was disallowed but was reviewed. The officials ruled that Lucic made no “distinct kicking motion”, so the goal was allowed.

Lucic scored more definitively a few minutes later, putting a wrist shot past Lundqvist at 9:26 of the first period to give Boston a 2-0 edge.

Carl Soderberg made it 3-0 at 14:27 after a turnover by Matt Hunwick.

The second period started in odd fashion for Boston. Goalie Tuukka Rask left the game only ten seconds into the period and was replaced by Niklas Svedberg.

Reilly Smith scored his 13th goal of the season 5:53 into the period to make it 4-0.

Rick Nash scored his 40th of the season at 16:49 of the second to make it 4-1, and Hunwick scored with 23 seconds left in the game for the final 4-2 margin.

Lundqvist gave up three goals in the first 14 shots he faced, but finished with 26 saves.

The Rangers [now 47-20-7, 101 pts] host the Capitals Sunday afternoon at The Garden.


Rangers Rout Senators, 5-1, Clinch Playoff Spot

The Rangers scored early and often Thursday night, bounced red-hot goalie Andrew Hammond, and beat the Senators 5-1 in Ottawa. The win officially clinched a spot in the post-season for the Rangers.

The Rangers and Senators m-i-g-h-t meet in the first round of the playoffs next month. The Blueshirts have won both of this season’s meetings thus far. They meet one more time in the regular season, April 9th at The Garden.

Chris Kreider scored two goals in the first period, and Dan Boyle, Mats Zuccarello, and Tanner Glass scored the other Rangers goals.

Kreider got the Blueshirts on the board at 12:38 of the first, but Curtis Lazar tied the score just 19 seconds later. Boyle gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 lead at 14:40, and Kreider scored again at 19:00 to make it 3-1 after one period.

Zuccarello scored his 14th goal of the season just 1:42 into the second period to make it 4-1. Later in the period, Glass scored at 16:02 to make it 5-1, moments after leaving the penalty box. It was Glass’ first goal of the season.

The Senators replaced Hammond shortly thereafter, with Chris Driedger playing the rest of the game. Hammond gave up five goals in 22 shots.

Cam Talbot made 23 saves in the win, to go to 16-4-3 since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers [now 47-19-7, 101 pts] have a busy weekend ahead: Saturday afternoon against the Bruins in Boston, and then Sunday afternoon at The Garden against Washington. Lundqvist is expected to make his return to the lineup in one of those two games.

Two Hot Goalies Meet As Rangers Face Senators

Two of the NHL’s hottest goalies – and two of the season’s most intriguing figures – meet tonight in Ottawa when Cam Talbot and the Rangers face Andrew Hammond and the Senators.

Talbot is 15-4-3 since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist. Hammond, nicknamed “The Hamburglar” is 14-0-1 since joining the Senators in mid-February. Hammond’s play has helped the Senators move into 8th place – and the final wildcard spot – in the Eastern Conference standings.

Lundqvist will be in uniform and on the bench tonight, and is expected to start either Saturday afternoon at Boston, or Sunday afternoon at The Garden against Washington.

The Rangers, coming off a flat performance in a 4-2 home loss to the L.A. Kings Tuesday, still lead the Metropolitan Division, but have slipped into 2nd place behind Montreal in the Eastern Conference standings.

Skapski Reassigned to Hartford

The Rangers reassigned goalie Mackenzie Skapski to Hartford of the AHL Wednesday, setting the stage for Henrik Lundqvist‘s return to uniform Thursday when the Blueshirts play Ottawa.

Skapski was 2-0-0 with one shutout in two games for the Rangers; ironically, both games were in Buffalo against the Sabres.

After the Ottawa game, the Rangers play at Boston Saturday and then host Washington Sunday afternoon. Lundqvist, who has not played since February 2nd, is expected to start in one of those two games.

If I were to guess, I would think Lundqvist would play Sunday, at The Garden.

So Much For Revenge; Kings Top Rangers 4-2

When the 2014-15 NHL schedule was released, many Rangers fans circled March 24th; it was going to be a rematch with the Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings at The Garden. A chance for a tiny shred of revenge.

What actually happened Tuesday night at The Garden was much less satisfying. The Kings dominated the Blueshirts, winning 4-2.

Things started on a high note; Mats Zuccarello scored just 51 seconds into the game, giving the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead.

The Kings tied it at 10:38 of the first when Roger Regehr scored his second goal of the season; his shot was partially stopped by Cam Talbot but trickled past the line for a score.

Los Angeles took a 2-1 lead at 4:35 mark of the second period when Justin Williams intercepted Talbot’s clearing pass behind the net, passed it to Anze Kopitar, who got it to Marian Gaborik for the goal. After two periods, the Kings were outshooting the Rangers 31-21 and looked faster up and down the ice.

Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin added insurance goals early in the third period, to make it 4-1. Kevin Hayes scored with 3:44 to play for New York’s final goal.

The Rangers [now 46-19-7, 99 pts] head north to Ottawa for a game Thursday night against the red-hot Senators; Ottawa is 9-1-0 in their last ten games and has moved into 8th place in the Eastern Conference standings.


Rangers’ Offense Awakens, Beats Anaheim 7-2

After scoring only six goals in their last four games, the Rangers’ offense exploded Sunday night at The Garden, setting a season-high for goals scored, as the Blueshirts beat the Anaheim Ducks, 7-2. The win put the Rangers atop the standings for best overall record in the NHL.

Everyone got into the act; Derek Stepan scored twice, and Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, and Derick Brassard all scored goals. Keith Yandle had three assists.

They hadn’t generated that much offense since a 6-5 win over the Islanders February 16th.

Kreider got the Rangers on the scoreboard first, only 84 seconds into the game, with his 18th goal of the season, but Corey Price answered for the Ducks at 2:50 to tie the game, 1-1.

At 5:43, Stepan scored a power play goal to make it 2-1, scoring for the first time in 15 games, and snapping a long slump for New York’s power play. Hagelin made it 3-1 at 10:16 of the first period, but Price scored his second of the game at 11:12, to cut the score to 3-2.

In the second, Miller and Stepan scored to give the Blueshirts a 5-2 lead after two periods. Fast and Brassard added goals in the third.

Cam Talbot got the win, and is now 15-3-3 since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers [now 46-18-7, 99 pts] host the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night at The Garden.

Zuccarello Goal Gives Rangers Shootout Win

The Rangers used a shootout goal by Mats Zuccarello and a clutch, game-clinching save by Cam Talbot to seal a 3-2 win over Carolina Saturday night in Raleigh. The win gave the Blueshirts a sweep in the five-game season series between the two teams.

Elias Lindholm put the Hurricanes on the board first, only 2:01 into the game; Talbot caught a piece of the shot, but it slid into the net for a 1-0 Carolina lead. One of the assists went to Danny Biega; it was his first NHL point.

The Rangers seemed to kick it into another gear in the second period, being noticeably more aggressive and forcing more chances in the Carolina zone. That aggressive play paid off when J.T. Miller scored at 3:39 to tie the game. Derick Brassard won a faceoff in the Hurricanes’ end, Zuccarello made a great pass to Miller, and Miller deflected it in for his 8th of the season.

Later, at 12:59 of the second, Jesper Fast gave the Blueshirts the lead, taking a pass from Kevin Hayes and spinning around before shooting past Anton Khudobin for a 2-1 Rangers lead.

That lead did not last. Late in the third period, Ryan Murphy tied the game for the Hurricanes, with a power play goal at 14:27, and the game would go to overtime tied 2-2.

Neither team scored in the five-minute overtime. In the shootout, Lindholm missed for Carolina, and then Kevin Hayes missed wide. In the second frame, Riley Nash was stopped by Talbot. Then came Zuccarello’s turn; he scored on a nifty move, after screeching to a stop in front of Khudoban.

That left it to Jeff Skinner, in a must-score situation, and Talbot made a nice stop with the right pad, clinching the win.

The Rangers [now 45-18-7, 97 pts] are back in action Sunday night at The Garden against Anaheim, who have the most wins and most points in the Western Conference.



Talbot To Start Saturday, No Decision Yet on Sunday

The Rangers are heading into a weekend of back-to-back games, and coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Friday that Cam Talbot will get the start in goal Saturday night in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes. But Vigneault would not say whether Talbot or Mackenzie Skapski would start Sunday night at The Garden when the Blueshirts host the Anaheim Ducks.

Talbot is 13-3-3 since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist, while Skapski is 2-0-0. The Rangers [44-18-7, 95 pts] are in first place in the Metropolitan Division and are two points behind Montreal for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but they have played three fewer games than the Canadiens.