New York Rangers: 5
Right from the puck drop, the Rangers had numerous scoring chances within the first minute of play. With both teams playing some good hockey as of late, you could tell that this would be a fun game. The Rangers haven’t played since Friday against the Islanders and their surplus of energy was evident early on. Around three minutes in Daniel Carcillo rang a wrist shot off the post and the Rangers continued their strong start. After about six minutes of dominance by the Rangers, Erick Johnson took a roughing minor and the Rangers got their first chance on the power-play. Semyon Varlamov looked sharp early on and the Rangers first power-play was unsuccessful. Gabriel Landeskog had the Avalanche’s best chance of the game as he slipped one past fellow olympic teammate, Henrik Lundqvist, but it hit the post and bounced away. After an excellent first half of the period , the Rangers got on the board with a goal by the captain, Ryan Callahan. It has been an interesting week regarding the captain with all the contract rumors, but he put up his 10th goal on the season anyways off of a nice pass from Carl Hagelin (his 10th assist). After Cally got the Rangers the lead, the team didn’t hold back at all and continued to play a near perfect period. Callahan, played like someone who wants to get paid, put up his second goal of the night three minutes later. The goal was assisted by Brad Richards (his 26th assist) and it put the Rangers up 2-0 with little time remaining in the opening period. With 59 seconds left before the first intermission, Gabriel Landeskog took a holding penalty and the Rangers finished the period on the power play. After one period, the Rangers led the Avalanche in shots 20-4 and held a 2-0 lead. They had 1:01 left on the power-play to start the second period.
The Rangers failed to convert on their second power play chance, as Varlamov continued his strong play despite a 2-0 deficit. The Rangers stayed focused and kept getting shots on goal as they knew getting the next goal would be crucial against this talented Avalanche team. About 5 minutes into the period Paul Stastny tipped a shot off the pipe but, Chris Kreider found the rebound and proceeded to lead Rick Nash to a breakaway which was denied by Varlamov. Right after that, Dan Girardi took a “holding the stick” penalty on Stastny and the Avalanche got their first power-play opportunity. After Lundqvist made a great glove save on the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, Nathan MacKinnon, Landeskog got one past Hank on the power-play. After the Avalanche cut the lead to one, the Rangers fired right back. Anton Stralman ripped home his first goal of the season assisted by Mats Zuccarello (25th assist) and Derick Brassard (22nd assist). The Rangers were getting to every loose puck and won a majority of the battles on the boards, which lead to a huge amount of puck possession. After Stralman’s goal, the pace of the game slowed down a bit and the play became more back and forth between both teams. With 5:51 remaining in the middle frame, Marc-Andre Cliche took a holding penalty and the Rangers were given their third power-play chance. The power-play provided nothing special as it failed for the third time in the game and shortly after it ended, Kreider took a holding penalty. Ten seconds into the Avalanche’s second power-play, Girardi took a high sticking penalty and the Avalanche were given 1:50 on the 5 on 3. Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh cannot be classified as human as they killed off the whole 5 on 3 penalty without taking a shift. Lundqvist, starting in his 554th career game, made some unreal saves as the Rangers kept their 2 goal lead. The second period ended with the Rangers up 3-1 on the scoreboard and they were up in shots 35-18.
Early on in the third period, Callahan was robbed of his hat-trick by Varlamov right in the crease. A few minutes later, Brassard got a lucky bounce off of Ryan O’Reilly’s skate and gave the Rangers a comfortable 4-1 lead. Zuccarello was awarded his second assist of the game and he, with linemates Brassard and Benoit Pouliot continued to impress. After Brassard’s goal, the Avalanche pressured hard and had some of their best shifts of the game, but Lundqvist held his end and stopped some tough chances. At around the 11:10 of the period, the Rangers recorded their 40th shot on goal for only the 9th time this season. Callahan had another solid chance at a hat-trick as he tried a wrap-around on Varlamov, but Varly shut the door and made an excellent pad save. The game slowed down immensely after that, but late in the third, Richards put on the finishing touches as he scored his 15th goal of the season with a few minutes remaining. Callahan picked up another point and Hagelin picked up his second assist on the night from Richard’s goal and the Rangers soared to an impressive 5-1 win.
Side note: Congrats to Marc Staal on the birth of his daughter Anna Veralyn Staal!
3. Henrik Lundqvist – 27 saves
2. Carl Hagelin – 2 assists
1. Ryan Callahan – 2 goals and an assist
My Three Stars:
3. Marc Staal – after most likely not sleeping last night, Marc had a strong game.
2. Henrik Lundqvist – Made key saves when the Avs were pressuring
1. Ryan Callahan – A sign of things to come for Cally?
The Rangers remain in second in the Metropolitan division and face off against the Edmonton Oilers at MSG on Thursday at 7pm.