When the red light flashed and Ales Hemsky celebrated his overtime winner for the Stars over the Rangers on Sunday, it felt more like 2006 than 2015. The man who was once an integral part of an Edmonton Oilers team which went on a run to game seven of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final had completed the Stars’ season sweep of the Broadway Blueshirts.
When came down to it, the Rangers deserved the point they got, but given the first 30 or so minutes they played against Dallas, the second point would not so much have been earned.
All About That Timing
Sometimes all it takes is that timely goal, and Chris Kreider gave the Rangers just that with 1:20 to play in regulation time on Sunday.
Trailing the game by one while skating with the man-advantage, Kreider took advantage of a Kari Lehtonen miscue which put him out of position, and found the back of the net to knot the score and send the contest to overtime.
Up to that point, the Ranger power play had been unable to light the lamp, and it looked like the Rangers were going to do everything but notch the tying goal late. It looked like they were also going to let their power play chances go awry without making the Stars pay for their mistakes.
Luckily for New York, Sunday was a classic case of getting the job done when it counted. The power play may not have been perfect all game, but it got the timely goal when it mattered most.
The Ranger power play is currently tied for ninth place in the NHL with the Islanders.
Heading into the third period of Sunday’s game, the Rangers found themselves trailing by one after having played, in the words of Marc Staal, an “ugly” first portion of the game.
So how did they respond in the final 20 minutes? By out-shooting Dallas 20-2.
The Rangers did almost everything right in the third period. They drew two penalties, stayed out of the box, peppered Lehtonen from all angles, and stiffened up on defense to ensure the one goal deficit never increased. While the effort early – which Alain Vigneault was not shy in criticizing – was sub-par, the third period effort had the Rangers deserving of the point they walked away with.
AV: “Probably 33-34 first minutes, we had a couple guys obviously that were not putting their A-game on the ice.”
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) February 9, 2015
It would’ve been a hard punch in the gut had they been unable to get the tying tally and one point in the standings.
Cam Stops, Hank Speaks
It’s no secret that with star-goaltender Henrik Lundqvist sidelined with a neck injury, Cam Talbot is now the go-to-guy between the pipes for the Rangers. Scouts, fans, the opposition, and the like will get their first real taste of whether Talbot is a capable starter in the NHL, or if he’s just a more-than serviceable backup as he’s been under The King for the last season and a half.
With the exception of the softie he allowed from an Eric Cole shot late in the second, Talbot was pretty solid for the second consecutive game. If he continues to look sharp and give the Rangers a chance every night, his stock could rise rather quickly.
But more important than that, is the fact that Lundqvist himself spoke to the media regarding his absence due to injury. After telling reporters that he could have been at risk of having a stroke if he had continued playing after taking a puck to the neck, he went on to say that while it pains him to be sidelined, he is accepting the fact that he just needs to rest and work towards a speedy and successful recovery.
Here’s the full Lundqvist press conference:
More Bad News
It’s true. The injury ninja has struck Broadway for the second time in less than 10 days. Following medical tests, it was confirmed Sunday evening that Jesper Fast will be out for 2-3 weeks with a sprained knee. Fast, who had become a big piece of the team both on the third line and on the penalty kill, will be halted in his tracks at least for the near future.
#NYR Injury Update: Jesper Fast will miss 2-3 weeks due to a sprained knee
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 9, 2015
What does that mean for the Rangers? Well, seeing as no call-ups from Hartford have yet been made, it means that much to the dismay of too many Rangers fans, Tanner Glass won’t be coming out of the lineup any time soon.
Telling days are ahead for the Rangers. We’re about see what this team is really made of over the next month.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.