If there was ever a time where the New York Rangers play their best hockey, it is in elimination games. Since the 2012 postseason, the Rangers have won 15 of 18 playoff elimination games, with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist now 15-3 in these games.
When the Rangers have their backs to the wall, there is no better man to have in net than Henrik Lundqvist. Tonight he made 36 saves on 39 Lightning shots and has only increased his value in knock out games. He has been called upon time and time again to keep the Rangers alive in games and in series and he never disappoints.
He made big time saves tonight, especially one in the first period on Steven Stamkos point blank on the power play to keep the score 1-0. He kept the Blueshirts in the game while they were outshot 16-7 in the first period and 13-11 in the second.
The Rangers got on the board first and early with goals by Derick Brassard and Keith Yandle. Brassard went on to finish the night with a hat trick (3 goals) and 2 assists. His third goal forced Tampa Bay to pull their goaltender in the third period. Brassard’s hat trick is the first New York Rangers’ playoff hat trick since Michael Nylander in 2007 against the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Rangers’ top line certainly came to play tonight. They were a force to be reckoned with. Brassard had 3 goals and 2 assists, Rick Nash and J.T. Miller each had a goal and 3 assists; totaling 13 points in one game. Critics always said the Rangers will not win games or the Stanley Cup if Nash doesn’t get on the score sheet. He is certainly proving his worth this series.
After giving up a power play goal to former Ranger captain Ryan Callahan for his first goal of the playoffs, New York took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room. This postseason, the Rangers are now 7-0 when leading after two periods after finishing the season 40-0-1 when leading after two periods of play. These numbers are just simply incredible.
The third period saw an onslaught of Rangers’ goals by Miller, Sheppard, Brassard, Nash, and Brassard again. While the Rangers seems to dictate play, the Lightning did manage to score two more goals to cut their lead to 7-3, which was the final score.
The New York Rangers now welcome another Game 7 at home at Madison Square Garden, where King Henrik reigns supreme. No one can be more clutch in a Game 7 than Lundqvist. Dating back to 2008, the Rangers are now 10-0 in elimination games at the Garden and 6-0 in Game 7’s. These numbers are unreal, but when you have an all-star goaltender and a talented depth team in front of him who love playing do or die hockey, the numbers seem to become a bit more realistic.
So here we go. Game 7 at the Garden. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 29. If the Rangers win, they will return to the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive seasons to claim what is rightfully theres after winning the President’s Trophy this season. With help of the Garden faithful, the Rangers know what must be done and live for these types of moments. The stage is set for this winner take all game.