NYR 2, MTL 1 - Rangers Respond, Overcome MSG Woes

“We’re confident that we’re going to play the right way.”

While not as brash as Mark Messier’s guarantee in 1994, the Rangers captain, Ryan McDonagh, expressed confidence in his team on Tuesday before game four against Montreal. Needing a win to get the Madison Square Garden monkey off of their back, the Blueshirts responded with their best effort of the series to earn a 2-1 win and tie the series at two wins apiece.

In response to registering just six shots in the third period of game three, the Rangers had seven shots in the game’s first eight minutes or so. Similar to game one, they were rewarded for their effort by an unlikely goal scorer, as Jesper Fast got in hard on the forecheck and capitalized when Andrei Markov struggled to control the puck as it whipped around the boards.

After opening the first period with good jump, the Rangers, who might have been ticked off about the late goal they surrendered came out even stronger in the second, firing the period’s first seven shots and getting a ton of traffic in front of Carey Price. Rick Nash cashed in a brilliant play by the captain to get the 2-1 lead.

After largely controlling the first two periods, the Blueshirts did a pretty good job of handling the Habs’ push in the third. In a much grittier period, Montreal had the edge in play but only generated five shots. Still, as was the case in game one, the Rangers did a fair job of minimizing second chances and holding off the Canadiens in front of Henrik Lundqvist‘s crease. He wasn’t tested much until Montreal got desperate late.

The big takeaway from game four is that if they’re on their game the Rangers are the better team. Even more than game one, they used their speed to get through the neutral zone and establish the forecheck to exploit the slower Canadiens. And while the Blueshirts had a 43-25 edge in hits, this game wasn’t a slugfest like game two. It was a combination of speed, forcing turnovers and playing the body that led to the hit totals and that style meant that Henrik Lundqvist, who made 23 saves, didn’t have to be their best player.

New York will look to repeat the same performance in game five, as it visits Montreal on Thursday.


Notes:

Nash has 13 points in his last 13 playoff games; New York would have tied an NHL record for consecutive playoff losses at home if they lost; Pavel Buchnevich played his first-career playoff game; Lundqvist is now 10th all-time in playoff starts; Montreal tallied only 12 shots in the last two periods; Brendan Smith played a tough 22:44 to lead the Rangers.

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