The New York Rangers came back to the confines of Madison Square Garden looking to turn the tide of their second round series with the Ottawa Senators.
The New York Rangers were able to make a statement with a commanding 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators to make it a series at two games to one.
If the Rangers were to get back into the series, their skill players would need to produce. They came through in a big way, keying the team to victory.
As it often does with the Rangers, it started in net. Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from a subpar outing in Game Two with a solid performance for the win.
Lundqvist was not tested particularly hard and kept the Senators off the board until late in the second. When called upon, he held the fort, limiting the damage to only another goal by Jean Gabriel Pageau.
Mika Zibanejad was impressive all game, setting up Zuccarello for the opening goal while putting six shots on net. He continued to provide offense, sometimes by himself, notching several grade A scoring chances. Zibanejad maintains his team lead on postseason scoring with seven points.
Mats Zuccarello was a force as he often is, having several good moments with his linemate Zibanejad. In addition to the first goal, he also got credit for setting up Grabner’s tally. Zuccarello trails only Zibanejad for playoff points on the Rangers with six.
Grabner himself kept going in the offensive zone, putting a few more scoring chances on net on the second period. Grabner is now tied with Zuccarello and Brady Skjei for the team lead in playoff goals with four.
Rick Nash, who has been a driving force for the Rangers throughout the postseason, beat Craig Anderson under the arm for the team’s third goal. The goal was also Nash’s third of the postseason.
The recently maligned JT Miller finally made his presence known, displaying the skill that made him the team’s second leading regular season scorer. He sliced through the Senators and set Oscar Lindberg up for his first ever NHL playoff goal.
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The narrative entering this third game was that the Rangers would need to impose their toughness on the Ottawa Senators. To that end, head coach Alain Vigneault inserted rugged forward Tanner Glass into the lineup for rookie Pavel Buchnevich.
However, the Rangers did not check the Senators into submission. They did not score “dirty” goals. Zibanejad and Miller displayed a supreme amount of skill to set up Zuccarello and Lindberg respectively, with perfect passes. Grabner capitalized off of a defensive gaff and Nash elected to shoot on a two on one.
The Rangers also were much more responsible with the puck, limiting the Senators’ offensive zone time and winning many neutral zone battles. They were decisive with the puck and executed well, finding the open man with crisp, tape-to-tape passes and getting shots on net. As they usual do, the team generated chances off the rush and converted on one, courtesy of Nash.
To be fair, Tanner Glass was not a liability and helped to maintain the Rangers’ forecheck pressure. He also earned the secondary assist on Lindberg’s goal. However, he is by no stretch of the imagination a skill player and also only saw 10:00 of ice time, including 1:33 in the third period.
Much as he did against the Montreal Canadiens, Vigneault should once again insert Pavel Buchnevich in favor of Tanner Glass. With the skill players really delivering in Game Three, it would behoove the New York Rangers to double down on skill.