Make it three straight victories and a series win for the New York Rangers who defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to win the best-of-seven series in six games. The Garden was buzzing and the Rangers didn’t start of the way they wanted to but just as they did in previous games had a strong finish and were able to knock out the Habs.
Mats Zuccarello was the savior tonight as he scored two goals one of which on the power play to help secure the victory. Derek Stepan sealed the deal with the empty-net goal and the Rangers will now enjoy some deserved days off after a physical series.
“It was a good fought series there, a tough one”, Zuccarello went on to say. “Montreal played great, a tough team to play against. They made it hard for us but we have a tough team in here. Hank (Lundqvist) is unbelievable and we stick together. Our D-men, they play unbelievable. They block shots, they stand up every hit, and it’s amazing to have those guys behind us. The way that G (Girardi), Mac (McDonagh), and Staalsy (Staal) and those guys step up and take a hit, make a play, and block some shots, it’s inspiring for us forwards.”
It looked as if the Rangers were going to have a long night as they were unable to generate any offense in the first period as they only registered five shots on goal. They were able to escape trailing just 1-0 thanks to Lundqvist as usual. In both the second and third period the ice became tilted and the Rangers did what they were capable of doing; shutting down a talent offense by keeping sustained pressure and not sitting back.
Derek Stepan talked about the bad first period by saying, “There’s a lot of chatter within our group. We didn’t like the way we played in the first. They came out with a big push. I don’t think our group thought that we were good enough to match that intensity. I thought we made adjustments. We understood there were still two periods of hockey left to play.”
So now the Rangers will enjoy some time to rest and recharge as they get ready for their round two opponent which is still yet to be decided. It will be either the Ottawa Senators or the Boston Bruins. The Sens have a 3-2 series lead and will take place on Sunday afternoon.
As for preparing for the next series, the Rangers can hopefully build on their power play goal to continue the success moving forward in the playoffs that anything can happen and special teams can prove to be the difference. Rejoice Rangers fans for now, but there is still 12 more victories to go for the ultimate prize.