First period aside, what an excellent display the Rangers put on in front of a near capacity crowd in the Bronx. A first 20 minutes marred by phantom penalties, horrible defense, bad ice and a "musical act" that my kids could probably replicate. Still, despite the Rangers defensive inadequacies in the opening frame, nobody expected what transpired over the final 40 minutes….
The light snow that fell in the latter half of the second period was a beautiful back drop for the goal parade that was to come. The Rangers got their transition game going that was absent in the first period by keeping Devils defenders on their heels, which has often been the case during the Rangers' resurgence and has led to pretty consistent production; especially for a team that has been heavily reliant on the power play for goals scoring but have shown improvement recently getting the same production 5v5.
Zucc was 2/3rds of the way towards a natural hat trick after he tied the game on a redirect off his skate from a John Moore centering feed and nearly 10 minutes later, Mats finished off a 3 on 1 after a bad Devils pinch in the Ranger end that winds up in the Devils net.
Zuccarello's second of the game was the first of 3 Ranger goals in just under 7 minutes. Hagelin ran the lead to two goals 1:09 after Zucc's game winner, chasing down a puck behind the Devils' net and fired off a shot that glanced off the side of Brodeur's mask and in.
The nail in the Devils' coffin came with 30 seconds left in the second with Stralman delivering a thunderous open ice hit at the Rangers blue line against the puck carrying Andy Greene. The turnover resulted in a 3 on 1 the other way. Stepan found Nash streaking down the right wing and scored his 7th goal in the last 5 games.
Marc Staal and Kevin Klein stood out today. Staal's goal in the first period kept the game close and was the Rangers first by a defenseman in 11 games. Klein negated Jagr 1 on 1 in the Rangers end right after they tied the game early in the second. Klein's steady play in his own end was a sight for sore eyes for a team in need of all the defensive help they can get their hands on.
First time Marty has allowed 5+ in his career against the Rangers and was yanked for the third period. If today was the last game the Rangers play against Marty, it was a hell of a way to send him off.
After the miserable first period Lundqvist had, the Rangers made his day much easier, allowing only 12 shots on goal over the final 40 minutes. The Rangers defensively got to pucks much better, won the battles on the boards and never allowed the Devils to set up for quality chances.
The Rangers get set for round 2 outdoors on Wednesday who will look to exact revenge for last week's bad loss against the Islanders.
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