The Rangers came into this game against Ottawa, losers of three straight, with inconsistent levels of play and an increasingly concerned fanbase. While it was probably still not the complete game they were searching for, the team was able to secure the victory behind an excellent Jaroslav Halak in net, who got his first win as a Ranger.
For the most part, the first period began very non-descript, as both teams traded some low-danger chances. It was then that Ryan Lindgren (a monster all night with three assists) let a shot go from near the blue line that got through to Talbot for a rebound, where Jimmy Vesey (one of Rangers’ best forwards on the night) was able to sweep it in for a 1 goal lead.
The Rangers entered the 2nd period with that lead, but it appeared that Ottawa had a little more jump in their step. That almost resulted in a tie game as the Senators squeaked a puck through Halak’s legs. Luckily for the Rangers, Jacob Trouba seemed to be in the right place at the right time all night and swept away the puck JUST as it was about to cross fully over the goal line.
After that, the Rangers were able to counter with some aggressive and solid 4th line work. Sammy Blais started the play with a pass to Ryan Lindgren, who sent another shot toward the net (a wonderful pattern all night 😉 that Barclay Goodrow tipped in due to winning the battle against his defender. It was a great shift and rewarded Gallant for putting Blais and Goodrow down on the 4th line.
The Rangers now led 2-0 midway through the game, but their recent trend of losing multi-goal leads didn’t instill confidence that it was a comfortable margin. Sure enough, a few minutes later, after another turnover, the Rangers let Shane Pinto skate in unabated, who then sniped one past Halak to cut the lead in half at 2-1. That goal was followed up by a Rangers’ penalty. Suddenly, the possibility of blowing another two-goal lead was staring the team in the face.
Thankfully for the Blueshirts, their penalty kill was stellar all night, and they were able to fend off the Senators and head into the 3rd period leading by one.
In the final frame, the Rangers played their best hockey of the evening, creating several chances. As has been the case for most of the season, though, they had trouble converting, including a terrible miss by Chris Kreider at the side of a wide-open net. However, he was able to atone for that later as Ryan Lindgren, once again, sent a shot toward the net, which Kreider beautifully redirected for his 11th goal and a 3-1 lead.
The Rangers had to survive another abbreviated penalty kill and a bizarre sequence where a Halak save catapulted the puck several feet into the air. No one on the Rangers seemed to know where the puck was as it hovered for a few solid seconds above the ice. Once again, luck was on the Rangers’ side as Trouba was unknowingly in a good position, and Ottawa’s shot was blocked by his leg, saving a sure goal.
This game was solid, if not spectacular, for the Rangers. However, there were promising signs, including Halak having a great game and securing his first win this season. The team will now complete their home-and-home series with Ottawa Friday night at MSG. The hope is that a win can build some confidence, and they can find the rhythm and consistency that has been lacking for most of this season.