The New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight by the score of 6-1. For a box score, click here.
After the mess that happened down in Carolina on Friday, combined with this team and their recent history with the Lightning and Ben Bishop in particular, this game was enjoyable. Even if it happened in October.
Before I get to anything…. Kudos to the MSG crowd for getting on Bishop in that third period. Bravo. Bishop couldn’t wait to get off the ice in the final seconds.
Several facets to tonight’s game. First, more games from the Tampa coach prior to the game, not committing to either Kucherov or Callahan playing, before dressing both. It didn’t really matter since neither did a whole lot of anything.
The Rangers lead was never really threatened at any juncture, but the turning point in tonight’s game was Cooper challenging Grabner’s goal. Not sure what the coach saw there, but it didn’t stifle the Ranger momentum through that second period.
Even when Kreider comes back, which is looking like it’s coming on Tuesday, I don’t think that third line of Grabner-Miller-Hayes is going anywhere any time soon. The second goal with Hayes hooking up with Skjei before the cross ice pass through the slot to Grabner was a thing of beauty.
I thought Nash’s opening goal on a breakaway to open the scoring was huge at the time which gave the Rangers a bit of a window on how to beat Bishop, a same strategy that Grabner later used on a breakaway of his own. The Rangers found themselves in several odd-man rushes on Bishop tonight.
Hayes had a whale of night, capped off by his ridiculous pass to Grabner at 6-0 and getting his heavy shot that Bishop couldn’t handle with Miller there to collect the loose puck to make it 4-0.
There will be plenty of other games to criticize the defense. That won’t happen tonight. McDonagh with a point in 7 straight games, the first time a Ranger defenseman has done that in 20 years, with the last guy to do it was some guy named Brian Leetch.
The Rangers as a unit defensively were pretty good. Raanta saw plenty of shots where he didn’t have bodies all around him in the crease and the Rangers kept the Lightning to the outside.
Tonight might have been Holden’s best game as a Ranger, which isn’t saying much… AV did not shelter him tonight and ended up positive in possession numbers. Everyone has to start somewhere, I guess.
I’m going to mention the goalies in these recaps a bit more and Raanta was incredibly unlucky to not earn the shutout because he was fantastic when the Rangers needed him, especially in the first opening minutes as the Rangers were just finding their legs. Bishop on the other hand… he’s given up 3+ in every start so far this season. The Rangers could get more used to that.
The Rangers next game is on Tuesday night with the St. Louis Blues in town.