Last night the New York Rangers went into the Consol Energy Center for game 1 of the Divisional Finals and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in overtime. What were the factors in the Rangers victory? Find out here at Blue Line Station.
Henrik Lundqvist: After struggling for most of the season, Lundqvist has finally turned back into the Lundqvist we all know and love. He was perfect in the first and third period, and the three minutes of the overtime period. The second period he let in two goals but that period the Rangers were out-shot 18-4 and he made some incredible saves to keep them in the game. The best thing you can have your goaltender do is make saves to keep your team in the game and give you some momentum, and Lundqvist did that last night.
Leadership: Last night was the Rangers third game in four nights, and the Rangers came out and had a very good start to the series and in turn the game. After Ryan Callahan was traded there were some questions about the leadership that was left in the locker room. The leadership is obviously alive and well if the team could come out and start in that way. The Rangers had a second period where they were heavily out played, they spent the majority of the time in their own end, and were out-shot 18-4. Kevin Klein was even quoted as saying “we just stopped competing”, but had a third period comeback that helped them gain some momentum which led to an overtime win. To be able to bounce back from a period that poor and win a game takes incredible leadership, from the coaching staff and the players.
Third Line: The Rangers first line struggled in the first round of the playoffs against a physical Philadelphia Flyers team. However, against a team like the Penguins where there won’t be as much physicality but more finesse, the third line of Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello greatly benefit from this. The third line was a huge factor in the Rangers success all season and was a key in the Rangers victory last night. On the first goal Pouliot simply skated over the line and shot it right past Fleury and in. In overtime Brassard put the game winning goal over Fleury’s shoulder but the ref didn’t see it, so the line stayed at it and less than ten seconds later Pouliot finished the job. If the Rangers want to be successful this series this line will have to play the way it did last night.