Quick Hits – Rangers vs Senators Game 3 5/2/17
Here is my recap of the Rangers 4-1 victory in Game 3 against the Senators.
Kreider-Zibanejad-Zuccarello – The Killer Z’s, as the team has come to call them, shined in this one. Zibanejad earned himself the Broadway Hat with an assist, three hits, and six shots on net. The former Senators centreman was noticeable all night and really made his presence felt. As for the other “Z”, Mats Zuccarello picked up a goal and an assist in this one, setting the Blueshirts up for a 2-0 lead after the first period. The diminutive Norwegian was the beneficiary of Mika Zibanejad’s pass from behind the net, as he one-timed the puck past Craig Anderson. The Killer Z’s have paced the Blueshirts all postseason, with each player atop the team leaderboard for goals, assists, and points. If these guys can keep it going, and maybe get linemate Chris Kreider going as well, it will make the Rangers forward group that much scarier for the opposition.
Rick Nash – The Rangers power forward played like a man possessed in this one. He scored the Rangers third goal of the night, but he had a couple of near misses and delivered three checks and three blocked shots as well. On the goal, Nash came down 2v1 with Derek Stepan after Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone collided at the Rangers blue line. Stepan passed the puck to Nash right after crossing the blue line, and Nash buried a wrist shot between the blocker and body of Craig Anderson. Nash has been prominent all series, and when he can put some pucks in the net, it just gets him going that much more.
Michael Grabner – The speedy winger turned nothing into something to give the Rangers their 2-0 lead in the first period. After Mats Zuccarello made a simple dump in from the circle in the offensive zone, Grabner capitalized on a miscommunication between Craig Anderson and Ben Harpur. Anderson had come out of the net to play the puck, and as he got there decided to head back to the net. Grabner swooped in to steal the puck and tucked it into the vacated net on the short side. Grabner was effective on the PK as well, which was a perfect 3-3 in this one. If Grabner can start to capitalize on his chances like we saw early in the season, he gives the Rangers an additional threat on their third or fourth lines.
“It says that we can erase an emotional loss. We had that extra day. It was a goal to put it behind us and move on.” – Rick Nash
Miller-Lindberg-Glass – Say what you will about Tanner Glass being inserted into the lineup, there is no denying he had an impact on this game. He made three hits, had a blocked shot, and made a real nice hustle play to get the puck to JT Miller on the Rangers fourth goal. As the puck was coming up to the Rangers blue line, Glass dove and got the puck to Miller. Miller then made some nice moves and fed an open Oscar Lindberg, who tapped it in over the pads of Craig Anderson. With JT and Tanner on the fourth line, the Rangers have four very balanced forward lines.
Team Defense – While the Rangers did pitch a shutout in their first game of the postseason, this may have been their best defensive performance in the playoffs. The Rangers had 14 takeaways, 31 hits, and 19 blocked shots, but more importantly, they did not make any of the bonehead mistakes that have come back to bite them. The Senators did not have much room to do anything in this one, and they were able to eliminate Erik Karlsson, who was -3 in this one. Defense is a team effort, and the team really committed to playing a full 200-foot game.
Henrik Lundqvist – It was a relatively easy night for King Henrik, who got four goals of support for the first time at home since the 2014 playoffs. That isn’t to say that Lundqvist didn’t have any work to do. He was able to stop 26 of 27 Senators shots, including this beauty late in the third period. This was the kind of shutdown performance Henrik needed, especially after giving up six goals in game two. Henrik has been just about rock solid between the pipes so far in the postseason. And if he can get some goal support,
the Rangers will be tough to beat.
Alain Vigneault – There have been a lot of discussions online about the job AV has done in the playoffs. There have been questions about his decision making late in games, as well as who to insert into the lineup. But the moves he made in this one worked about as well as they could. Vigneault learned from his mistakes in game two by trusting Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith by not limiting their ice time; the pair had more minutes than the duo of Nick Holden and Marc Staal. Also, the swap of Tanner Glass into the lineup for rookie Pavel Buchnevich gave the Blueshirts four lines that can all play physically, with speed and score. That is not to say that had Buchnevich been in the lineup the results wouldn’t have been the same, but Glass had a presence that was missing in the first two games of the series.
Effort and Energy – This was probably the best and most complete game the Rangers have played all postseason. There was no letdown late in the game, even though the Senators had the shots advantage over the final 40 minutes. Everyone made the extra effort by blocking shots, grinding in the corners or making sure to get in first on the forecheck. This was a must-win game for the Blueshirts, and they made sure to do everything they needed to ensure a victory. If the Rangers can turn in performances like this one for the rest of the series, they should be able to get into the Conference Finals.
NEXT GAME: The Blueshirts will look to even the series on Thursday night in Game 4 against the Senators. Puck drops at 730!
LETS GO RANGERS!!