Do Not Adjust Your Screen: Rick Nash scores twice to lead offensive explosion (NYR 5 v TB 1)
For the first time in his playoff career, Rick Nash scored more than one goal in a game. Is it any surprise that for the first time this post-season the Rangers won a game by more than 1? Even Martin St. Louis scored and the result was a 5-1 victory and the tying of the ECF at 2.
Late in the first period, Carl Hagelin kicked a puck over to Kevin Hayes from a scrum. Hayes waited a second for Nash to get to the outside of his defender and turn on the jets before leading him with a pass. Then Nash did something he rarely does in the playoffs, elect not to take a weak shot (which he does 78% of time thanks to MSG’s Steve Valiquette). Instead, Nash drove to the net and used his reach to beat Ben Bishop wide. “It’s fun to help out offensively,” Nash told Blueshirts United after the game. “Sometimes you struggle and it gets frustrating, but tonight they went in.”After the game, Dominic Moore, who got the Broadway Hat in Game 1 gave it to the “Slim Reaper”, Rick Nash. His smile was ear to ear and as he took the hat and the Cup puzzle piece that goes with it, he looked at the room and said, “Let’s realize we have something special here boys.” Luck also played a role in this game as the Rangers had many issues adjusting to Tampa in the first period. They left Tyler Johnson alone again and were lucky he hit the post to just name one instance. If we are honest, NY was lucky to be up 1 after the first period.
The Lightning continued to fire away on Lundqvist in the second, but the Rangers started closing up the middle and kept them to the outside. Steven Stamkos did even the score about mid-way through the second off a rocket shot, but that was really the end of the threat.
After the Tampa equalizer, Chris Kreider and his “beast front presence” (I might trademark the term), put a rebound through Bishop’s legs. Then, Keith Yandle who has been the Rangers best defenseman this series got a goal off of Victor Hedman for the 3-1 lead. Yandle finished with 3 points on the night.
Speaking of Ben Bishop, with the all the onus on Henrik Lundqvist for giving up 12 goals in games games 2 and 3, Bishop has now allowed 14 goals in this series (same as Lundqvist). Goals against aside, the SV% for these goalies are even more telling with Lundqvist at .891 and Bishop posting an .882 so far this series. The aura on Bishop being unbeatable is officially gone.
In the third, the Rangers would add 2 more power play goals raising their total to 6 for this series. First it was Marty St. Louis scoring his signature right side snap shot on a prone Bishop and then Nash would score on a rebound in front to complete the blowout.
[su_quote cite=”Blueshirts United” url=”http://www.blueshirtsunited.com/article/big-guns-carry-rangers-5-1-game-four-win-tampa”]”For the past while they’ve been answering questions about their offensive production,” head coach Alain Vigneault said of Nash and St. Louis. “For them to score a couple tonight, and for us to have a little bit of breathing room here tonight, was obviously very positive.”[/su_quote]
Finally, redemption for the man in the mask. Henrik Lundqvist focused on his game and his reads which led to holding the fort in the first period and eventually letting the offense awaken. “I think the key is not to try to feel like you have to do something special,” Lundqvist told reporter, Andrew Gross. “Just do your job. That’s it and the rest will take care of itself. Sometimes, you feel you have to do more. You get out of structure.”
The Rangers stayed in their structure and return to MSG all squared at 2 games apiece. Game 5 is considered the second most important game in a series aside from game 7. If NY can take the momentum and the Garden crowd to their advantage, they will have 2 cracks to pick up 1 win and head back to the Stanley Cup Final.
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