Rangers take advantage of “Rusty” Lightning, win Game 1 of ECF 6-2

The New York Rangers won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 6-2,  leading the best of seven series 1-0.

Led by Filip Chytil’s two goals, the New York Rangers took advantage of a slower Lightning team, thanks to a nine-day layoff, defeating Tampa Bay 6-2 in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night.

It’s the first time the Rangers have won the first game of a series this playoff with Game two scheduled for Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist, and Alexis Lafreniere and Adam Fox each had two assists for the Rangers.

Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves in his first ECF game. Sheesterkin and the Rangers have now won seven consecutive home games something that has not been done since 2014 when Chicago Blackhawks goalie Cory Crawford accomplished the same feat.

Confidence Building

Mika Zibanejad, whose two points on Wednesday gave him a total of 21 points (8G 13A) in this postseason, understands the importance of the win and that this series is far from over.

“It’s nice for the confidence to score some goals, but we’ve been at the other end of it,” Zibanejad said. “[The series] is still just 1-0. It’s a new game on Friday. Just got to get back to playing our game and try to take some positives from this game. … We know it’s far from over. It’s just one game so we’ve just got to keep going.”

NHL.com 

The Rangers wasted no time taking advantage of what coach Gerard Gallant called a “rusty” team when Mika Zibanejad faked a shot off of a two on one and feed Chris Kreider who buried the shot to the right of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for a 1-0 lead 1:11 seconds into the contest.

The Rangers had been led by the “Kids” line for much of the previous two rounds.  Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, and Kappo Kakko continued their great play by contributing two goals (both by Chytil) in the win.  Chytil has now scored seven goals in 15 playoff games.  He scored eight in 67 regular-season games this season.

Gallant likes what he has seen by the line and the way Chytil has stepped up his game,

“Fil’s a good kid,” Gallant said. “He worked hard, he competes hard and he deserves what he’s getting right now. He’s stepped his game up. He knows it, everybody knows it and that is exactly what we need from him.”

NHL.com

The trio of Lafreniere (2A), Chytil (2G), and Kakko (1A) combined for five points on Wednesday, and all, individually, had a plus-2 rating. All three players are 22 or under (Lafreniere – 20, Kakko – 21 Chytil -22).

Far From Over

It’s just one game and the club knows the fire power this Lightning team possesses, so the Rangers need to be smart as they look to build on their 1-0 series lead.

“Take it one game at a time,” said Frank Vatrano. “They’re a good team over there. We can’t let our foot off the throttle. We just have to keep playing one shift at a time, one game at a time, stick to our game plan.”

NY Post

To get a 2-0 lead in this series and hold home-ice advantage will be a tough thing fo the Rangers to do. The lightning has not lost a game following a loss in 18 consecutive playoff games.

This team has been smart, resilient, and able to adjust to whomever they play.  They gave thee lightning and an unexpected smack in the face on Wednesday. Now they have to prepare for a  team that will come hard at them on Friday night looking to prevent falling into a 2-0 series hole.

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud

Kreider nets 30th, Rangers go on to defeat Kings in shootout 3-2

The New York Rangers handed the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 shootout loss on the strength of Chris Kreider’s 30th goal of the season and an incredible move by Adam Fox to lock up the win.

Poor starts to hockey games have become far too familiar for the New York Rangers.  Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings looked quite familiar to Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes but the result was the same as the Rangers overcame a late one-goal deficit and came back to win the contest in a shootout 3-2.

New York extended its home winning streak to five in a row and has earned points in six straight home games (5-0-1). On the year, the Rangers have earned a point in 15 of their 18 home games (13-3-2).

Before the Rangers could celebrate their 28th win and 60th point of the season, the 60 points in 43 games, it marks the fourth-fewest contests needed in franchise history to hit the 60-point mark, they had to survive a horrid first period that saw the Blueshirts outshot by the Kings 11-3.

 Kreider Hits 30

The only salvage the team could take into the first-period intermission was the 1-0 lead they possessed on a power-play goal by Chris Kreider. His 30th goal of the year was scored with 1.5 seconds left in the opening period.  It was his 15th power-play goal and has him the leading scorer in both categories as of last night.

He is the fourth different player in franchise history to score 30 goals in 43 or fewer games in a season, joining Rod Gilbert (42 GP in 1971-72), Bill Cook (42 GP in 1930-31 & 1926-27), and Don Murdoch (43 GP in 1976-77).

Adam Fox registered his 39th assist of the season on Kreider’s goal, the second-most in the NHL and the most among defensemen. Fox’s 46 points lead league defensemen. Fox has recorded points in six-straight games (2G-8A) and has points in eight of his last 10 games (2G-11A).

The Kings scored the next two goals taking a 2-1 lead into the third period. The third period was played with the Rangers putting a lot of pressure o the Kings and it paid off when Barclay Goodrow deflected a shot by Artemi Panarin to tie the game at 2 with less than five minutes to play in the game.

Spectacular Shootout Goal To Win It

After a scoreless overtime period, the skills competition, correction, the shootout began. It went six rounds with the Rangers needing to score twice to keep the shootout tied before Adam Fox stood at center ice to take the team’s 6th shot against the Kings netminder.

Fox skated down the ice and backhanded the puck that wedged itself in the top of the cage to give the Rangers the win.

 

“The [move] I did, I’m comfortable doing that,” he said after the win, I didn’t want to over-complicate anything, so I just made a little fake there and you know, just glad it worked out.”

Igor Shesterkin recorded his 20th win of the season for the first time in his career.

The Rangers visit Columbus on Thursday night before coming back home for Henrik Lundqvist’s jersey retirement on Friday.