Blueshirt Bullet Points, Game 3: Rangers 4 – Senators 1

In Blueshirt Bulletin Main Blog by Scott Charles

The Rangers dominated the Senators en route to a 4-1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Mats Zuccarello and Michael Grabner each tallied a first-period goal to capitalize on the momentum as the Blueshrits cut Ottawa’s lead in the series to 2-1.

New York spent tons of time in the offensive zone and limited Ottawa to a handful of scoring opportunities.

“You want to get a lead on this team for sure,” alternate captain Marc Staal explained. “Its a desperate game for us. We needed our best tonight and got that, especially in the beginning of the game.”

Game 4 is set for Thursday night at MSG.

Blueshirt Bullet Points

1) The Rangers needed a response after a horrible collapse in Game 2 and did not wait long to get on the scoreboard. Zuccarello and Grabner each scored early to energize the Garden crowd and capitalize on their early momentum swing.

2) New York’s top line, consisting of Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider dominated the first 20 minutes, generating multiple scoring chances and establishing possession in the offensive zone shift after shift. Zibanejad and Kreider have been plagued by consistency issues throughout their entire career, but the trio has the talent to be a top offensive line.

3) “That first period, they had the puck the whole period and were making plays,” Staal said. “They were great. Mika made some really nice plays, the whole line was buzzing. You need certain lines going for you on different nights and they stepped up for us tonight.”

4) Dan Girardi’s zone exit and pass off the boards to Zibanejad started the entire sequence. Girardi has had his regular season struggles, and will still make mistakes, but he is proving to be more of an asset than a liability during the 2017 playoffs.

5) The Rangers defensive problems are well-documented but during Game 3, New York played with the offensive prowess to mask those issues. The Blueshirts were not forced to defend for long stretches and rarely got pinned in their own zone. Bobby Ryan made a terrific pass to set up the Senators lone goal but that was one of Ottawa’s few scoring chances.

6) Ryan left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury and Zack Smith was sidelined earlier in the contest with an upper-body injury. Depth plays a critical role in the postseason and Ottawa currently has several injury concerns.

7) I’m not sure what Craig Anderson was thinking when Grabner converted his wraparound. He went to play the puck and then decided not to? I’ll let you decide.

8) Alain Vigneault’s decision to dress Tanner Glass is a head-scratcher but, if the coach does not trust Pavel Buchnevich and only plans on playing him 5-7 minutes, it really does not make a difference. But, with Glass on the ice, his straight-ahead play rubs off on teammates, and forces the opposition to question their decision-making throughout the game.

9) “He definitely brings an edge,” Staal said of Glass. “He hunted a couple of guys down there early. Gets guys thinking twice when he is on the ice. He definitely adds that element to our lineup and its good to have. He came in, stepped in and played a great game for us.”

10) J.T. Miller was one of the Blueshirts best offensive players during the regular season but has struggled to carry that scoring touch into the playoffs. On Tuesday, Miller skated with purpose and played a strong, physical game. He also made a nifty move in the offensive zone to set up Oscar Lindberg for his first career-playoff goal.

11) Rick Nash’s goal midway through the second period was very important and prevented the Senators from attempting a comeback. Nash could have gone off for a change but noticed Derek Stepan was skating into the offensive zone and his presence gave New York an odd-man rush. No. 61 fired a laser to beat Anderson on the short side, and give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.

12) It’s rare to write Blueshirt Bullet Points after a Rangers victory and not credit Henrik Lundqvist. The franchise goaltender was not challenged all that much but made the saves he was epected to make. When the Rangers skaters in front of Lundqvist play a structured game, it’s easier for him to read plays and see them develop.

13) “It felt like we were in control for the most part and played a really smart game,” Lundqvist said. “It felt like they had some good bounces going their way up in Ottawa.  We always talk about how you earn them, but tonight we made sure that if they were going to get anything, they had to earn it by working really hard. I think everybody felt like we played a really strong game when we needed it the most here.”