On a night where the New York Rangers withstood a second period Tampa Bay onslaught that saw goaltender Henrik Lundqvist make 18 saves on 19 shots the Rangers stuck to their game, and came away with a solid victory. This playoff win is their first playoff victory where they’ve won by more than one goal since game 6 of last years Eastern Conference final against the Montreal Canadians.
After giving up 12 goals in his last two games, and after a pessimistic barrage from mainstream media questioning whether or not Lundqvist would start game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, Henrik showed why he is the King of New York. Brilliant is an adjective that honestly does not do justice to the performance Henrik put on in Game 4, stopping multiple Tampa Bay breakaway opportunities, and making 38 saves of 39 shots.
Improvements all around as well for the defense as they aided Hank in allowing only one goal, as Rangers veteran defenseman Mark Staal came away with a +1. Rangers defenseman Keith Yandel had a goal, and two assists. The Rangers managed to cut the Lightning’s possession through out to the point where the third period became a virtual shooting gallery for the Rangers.
The Rangers also saw Rick Nash have his first multiple goal playoff game in his career (57th playoff game). Nash played with a drive, and finishing instinct that hasn’t been present thus far this post season. Nash scored the first goal of the game off a breakaway where he scored on a move to his backhand where he slid it past Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop. The collective exclamation of Rangers fans could be heard in the radio call, and the breaking voice of Don La Greca.
It would seem that tonight’s game would be the game where the targets of negative media attention would break out in response as Martin St. Louis also contributed on the night in the 3rd period. After taking a high stick which drew blood, but only drew a minor penalty, the Rangers Power Play (going 2 for 4 on the night) applied the pressure, and controlled the puck moving Tampa’s defense to the left side of the ice leaving St. Louis wide open who lifted the puck past Ben Bishop who was unable to cover the open net.
That goal was a huge boost for St. Louis as for the rest of the period he seemed to be in the right places on the ice, getting his best chances all post season. Much like the effort demonstrated by Rick Nash, St. Louis’ game generated three beautiful chances that he nearly cashed in on. Tonight’s offensive performance will hopefully put a lot of Rangers fans at ease at least until game five. Additionally if Rick Nash, and Martin St. Louis can break out and consistently contribute going forward coupled with the strong efforts by those already producing, this team will be in the perfect position.
Coach Alain Vigneault made some strong adjustments in an effort to restrict the offense of the Tampa Bay Lighting. No where was this more evident then the matchup of Rangers rookie Kevin Hayes, lining up opposite the post season’s leading scorer Tyler Johnson. Hayes was a thorn in the side of Johnson who was vastly limited in this game, and that frustration bled over after the whistle.
The Rangers really got under the Lightning’s skin, which boiled over to 13 penalties in the last four minutes of the game with three 10 minutes misconducts. New York managed to slow the pace of the game, play physical, and play to their strengths by getting into the dirty areas of the ice. Tampa Bay will adjust, but if the Rangers can continue putting forth this kind of effort it will be a perilous up hill battle for the Lightning.
The series turns into a best of three games as both teams head back to New York at Madison Square Garden, Sunday May, 24th. Puck Drops at 8pm.